FROM 2015: Justin Trudeau's TO DO List on Climate: Yes, Justin Trudeau represents a great leap forward from his climate-denying, short-sighted predecessor by merely getting elected. But to make 'real change' on climate change, our PM needs to get very clear on some mixed messages he delivered on climate issues before and during that loooong election campaign. Does he still give thumbs up to the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar sands oil from northern Alberta to Texas when it looks deader-than-a-doornail on the US side of the border? Will he listen to what the scientists say, or compromise with powerful oil lobbyists with a direct pipeline to Mr. Trudeau's Liberal campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier - forced to resign just days before the election - and no doubt many more. 

One thing about this stage of Earth's climate reality: Mother Nature is NOT in the mood for any more heat from fossil fuel emissions, or burning down forests to make hamburgers, or methane from burping ruminants (i.e. cattle, sheep, goats - the ones with four stomachs - so eating less meat is mandatory!) Think about it this way: Mother Nature is having nasty, post-industrial hot flashes, so we'd better step back from the climate brink before she really lets loose...

So, what should our new PM do?  For starters, he needs to move forward quickly with the following actions, according to James Mihaychuk in the National Observer: (October 31, 2015)

  • Appoint a new environment minister, and make that person “Minister of the Environment and Climate Change”, following the lead of the province of Ontario.
  • Meet with provincial ministers and premiers before the UN's COP 21 {climate negotiations in Paris which begins November 29}, to develop a credible position that indicates how Canada will set and meet meaningful goals on GHG {greenhouse gas} emissions. Demonstrating capability to meet the goals is essential now if Canada is to recover its lost credibility.
  • Set a more ambitious target for GHG emissions. Canada’s emissions only dropped due to the 2008 recession and because the province of Ontario ended coal-fired generation of electricity. Canada should put forward a plan to reduce GHG emissions 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 to leapfrog the U.S. on the clean-energy transition.
  • Given Canada’s shameful exit from the Kyoto Protocol, our country should enshrine its new commitments in law in a binding fashion, to reassure our partners in the international community that our commitment is genuine.
  • Work to have nations submit renewed GHG-reduction commitments every five years. This renewal process should include a meaningful review of national commitments and binding mechanisms that would strengthen commitments over time.
  • Canada should change course and abandon any support for the Keystone XL, Energy East, and Northern Gateway pipeline proposals. These pipelines would ship unrefined tar sands bitumen to refineries or supertankers and are intended mainly for export markets, not for domestic use. It simply is not possible for our government to lead on climate change while using our tax dollars to subsidize the production of some of the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet.
  • The federal government needs to follow the lead of many provincial governments in putting a price on carbon emissions, phasing out subsidies to fossil fuel industries, and in removing barriers to the introduction of renewable energies.
  • There are also opportunities to collaborate with the provinces on energy efficiency standards for buildings, appliances, and vehicles. In particular, Canada should introduce new standards for zero- and low-emission vehicles.
  • The $2 billion per year infrastructure push promised by the Liberals provides an important opportunity to accelerate build-outs of public transit. The infrastructure program should require that all federal funds go to projects with low GHG emissions.

Over the past 10 years, it has been left to provinces and municipalities to show leadership on climate change. Having been swept into a majority government by the Canadian electorate, Justin Trudeau now has a historic opportunity and responsibility to show real leadership on climate change. Canadians should let Mr. Trudeau know that they will be watching him closely in Paris.

{Originally published in Unpublished Ottawa. Republished with permission from James Mihaychuk).

And yes, we ARE watching, and ready to act like never before if this handsome young post-Boomer drops the climate baton. Our kids and grandkids deserve a livable planet...