COLUMN: Aligning what we say with what we do

Canada’s first ministers are set to meet this week to discuss a framework for coordination on climate change policy.

Michael Jessen

Canada’s first ministers are set to meet this week to discuss a framework for coordination on climate change policy.

According to Environment Canada, carbon emissions in this country are currently on track to be 56 per cent above the 2030 target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels.

The challenge is to close this emissions gap with policies that put an end to business as usual.

This is where our provincial premiers and our prime minister can become bogged down as they wrangle about carbon pricing and regulatory policies.

I would rather we frame the issue as one of an authentic purpose and align what we say with what we mean with what we do and ask our politicians to do the same. Just like businesses are realizing they have to be consistent both inside and outside their organization, so too should our governments.

Subsidies to sunset industries that are destroying the planet’s liveability must stop. Plain and simple, they proved useful in the past but it is time they were eliminated.

There is not time to play the game of finding a way to satisfy each province’s desire to continue to prop up industries that were valuable yesterday but today are detrimental to human survival.

The next few years will see clean tech industries growing around the world.

Businesses that produce cleaner and cheaper energy technologies that are both better and offer people more control over how they generate and use energy will ultimately succeed. That is why I am convinced the transition to a greener economy is irreversible.

But the crucial question now is over the pace and scale of the switch in the short to medium-term and who will benefit most from the transition.

In the near future, it is possible for each Canadian city to have its own energy company using clean energy sources and challenging the market dominance of the fossil fuel industries.

They could plow their profits into cutting energy bills for local people and insulating the homes of the fuel poor.

That is what I would call a “customer experience with soul.”

As Simon Robinson says in The Challenge of Authentic Purpose: “Experiences with soul are the only ones that truly resonate with people. A customer experience has soul when it has the quality of authentic wholeness, the principle of life itself.”

I believe human beings have a prodigious and skilful capacity for empathy and cooperation and it is needed now more than ever. We need all hands on deck either bailing or rowing in the same direction in order to achieve the national objective of reduced carbon emissions.

Without the reduced use of fossil fuels by us all there is no way of meeting any kind of targets any level of government sets. All levels of government need to literally take the bull by the horns and make policy changes that are courageous in reducing the use of fossil fuel.

We need to express this story and ask our politicians to repeat it. Egos and filters need to be parked at the door before entering the room to begin federal/provincial bargaining.

We know what our purpose is. The goal is not to have governments get along, but to solve the problem of climate change. There are many tools to use to get the job done.

We need to make the connection between our economic prospects and addressing climate change and transition to a low carbon economy.

We need to say yes to investing in industries that will position each province to take advantage of growing demand for clean technology and services.

We need to say yes to implementing solutions that ensure we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.

All we need to do is begin with the goal that we will succeed. And for that, we need leadership with authentic purpose.

Longbeach resident Michael Jessen is a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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