The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, signed by Canada and 195 other countries, has been greeted with much fanfare and enormous relief. After decades of mounting scientific evidence for the negative impacts of a changing climate – on people, wildlife and all ecosystems from forests to oceans – the highest levels of government are finally recognizing climate change as an immediate threat.
Now the real work begins. Canada is one of the highest per capita emitters of CO2, and we have much ground to cover to make up for lost time. The new federal government must immediately take the lead developing and implementing a plan to achieve emissions targets that actually match the science-based temperature limits committed to in Paris.
To accomplish the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”, the preservation of the world’s forests must be a key element of any strategy. Canada houses more than 30% of the world’s boreal forests, with globally-significant peatlands and wetlands -- much of which is still ecologically intact. As important storehouses of carbon and biodiversity, thoughtful and proactive conservation of these ecosystems is vital for both mitigating and adapting to the impacts of a changing climate.
Now is the time for Canada to show leadership and commitment to the world by putting strong words to action and curbing climate change before it becomes catastrophic.
Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada