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The Political Aspects of Climate Change

Climate change is a controversial topic, particularly in the realm of politics. The connotations of action and advocacy differ when discussed in political, scientific, and social contexts. For some, championing climate change means adding it to a political agenda; for others, no amount of action will be enough until global warming ceases. 

According to the Canadian government, the country as a whole is being impacted by climate change at twice the global rate. The Canadian Arctic is even more so at a warming rate three times higher than the rest of the planet. Scientific evidence projects that this rate will continue, if not worsen, over the coming years. Calls to address climate change are coming from both local communities and global organizations, though policy-making and impactful political action remain limited. 

Limitations of Belief

Despite unequivocal scientific evidence that the planet is warming at a dangerously unprecedented rate, there are large portions of society who do not take these facts as truth. A poll released by Abacus Data in 2018 cited that nearly one-third of Canadians were not convinced that human and industrial activity was causing climate change. 

It’s important to note that the study of science is inherently focused on both proving and disproving the “facts” of the past. To entirely discredit the notion that current evidence may be incorrect is irresponsible; history features countless examples of theories and evidence that have either been disproven or revised in favor of contemporary knowledge. 

Regardless of what is presented as factual, political decision-making will rely on what individuals in society believe is truth. No matter the science, belief will always have the most powerful influence action. 

Limitations of Action

Factual evidence and collective belief aren’t enough to spur change, even if they encourage action. Politics are an ever-changing concept; even when laws or policies are written in black and white, proponents and opponents of climate change advocacy will still leverage the grey area to benefit their cause.

Policy-makers remain limited by their official abilities, partnerships with constituents, and ability to actionably enforce their stance. Though it is up to our elected leaders to pave the way for reversing climate change, it’s also society’s responsibility to create and sustain change outside of the political arena. People and businesses both contribute to and are impacted by Canada’s climate change; without their collective action, irrespective of political agenda, it’s unlikely that necessary improvements will occur.

Where Does Canada Stand?

According to the Clean Energy Canada report from June of 2021, the country has already taken urgent action to address the climate crisis over the last five years, thanks in part to the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change that was adopted in 2016.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, former Minister of Environment and Climate Change, highlighted areas throughout the country where these changes are happening in real-time: from the Halifax-based CarbonCure Technologies, developing tech that injects carbon dioxide into fresh concrete, to Saskatchewan’s Covenant Energy, which is building a renewal diesel facility while also recycling the hydrogen it’s producing. 

The reality is that climate change is having a negative and measurable impact on Canada, an impact that each and every citizen and visitor will feel in one way or another. Our residents and tourists of the future will be affected by the political aspects surrounding climate change advocacy and action. 

Regardless of how science and societal belief influence future political aspects, it’s vital to remember that climate change is currently occurring. The action — or inaction — of today’s political response to climate change will only serve to either strengthen or undermine the potential solutions of tomorrow.

Nick Dauk | Contributing Writer

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