A report by Environment and Climate Change Canada has warned that the country faces rising temperatures at a faster rate than the rest of the world. The report, which was released on 1st April by the government organization, details the rise in temperature by 1.7 degrees Celsius in Canada since 1948. This is more than twice the global average, which stands at 0.8 degrees Celsius. The report is clear in stating that this is a direct result of human activity, specifically the high level of carbon emissions.
This comes only months after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of huge dangers as a result of rising global temperatures. It recommended “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to minimize catastrophic risks. The Canadian report concurs with this and posits “two very different futures for Canada” should drastic action not be taken on climate change. Rather than stopping rising temperatures, it is now an issue of slowing down the current rates as much as possible. The Assistant Deputy Minister for Science and Technology at Environment and Climate Change Canada said that, “The science is clear – Canada’s climate is warming more rapidly than the global average, and this level of warming effectively cannot be changed”.
The changing climate will lead to more instances of extreme weather. Increased rainfall will bring inland flooding and the risk of urban flooding, whilst higher temperatures will lead to drought and wildfires. The Arctic region of Canada has been affected the most significantly, with temperatures increasing by 2.3C since 1948. The warmer temperatures and subsequent melting of ice caps will bring coastal flooding. Such changes will be felt on a global level, the consequences of which have not yet been fully realized by world leaders. Whilst the Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 countries in 2015, was unprecedented in its efforts to tackle climate change, the IPCC has warned that by 2030 carbon emissions must have been cut by 45% to reach an acceptable level of warming. It has concluded that not enough is being done to do so.
This sense of inaction has been met with growing protest from activists across the globe. Most recently, the rise in prominence of Greta Thunberg, a 15-year old activist from Sweden, has sparked mass climate strikes by school children. On 15 March, activists took part in a global climate strike inspired by Thunberg across 71 countries. It is thought that around one million students protested by leaving school to take to the streets. In Britain, where government ministers castigated the protests as “truancy”, matters have been taken directly into the Houses of Parliament. In protest members of the nonviolent climate action group Extinction Rebellion stripped and glued themselves to the glass of public gallery in the House of Commons.
Whilst British politics remains in deadlock over the outcome of Brexit the protesters highlighted its futility in the face of global environmental catastrophe. The report released by Environment Climate Change Canada, just like the warnings of the IPCC, continues to forecast deeply unsettling prospects. Though the report is a project to understand the effects of climate change in Canada it is clear that we have a global responsibility to hold governments to account on climate inaction.