Despite 2015 being on track to become the warmest year on record, climate change had been largely ignored by the federal leaders. Knowing this, climate activists in Calgary delivered a special present to Canada’s federal party leaders last night – a gigantic carbon bubble.
Measuring in at nearly 20 feet around, around 50 people rallied at the entrance of the BMO Centre in Calgary ahead of last night’s Globe and Mail election debate to deliver a simple message – watch out for the carbon bubble, or bear the consequences when it pops.
The carbon bubble is a simple concept. We know that we need to leave the vast majority of fossil fuels underground – including at least 85% of Canada’s tar sands reserve. That means that as the world takes serious action on climate, fossil fuels can’t be burnt and fossil fuel companies can’t profit from burning them. Countries like Canada, where Stephen Harper has bet the farm on unchecked tar sands expansion, are going to take a hit far worse and more permanent than the current oil crash. In other words, at this point you simply cannot talk about Canada’s economy without talking the climate at the same time.
After disruptions on climate have dogged leaders on the campaign trail, and over 1100 tweets demanding that any conversation about the economy also include climate, there was some good news at the debate. Last night, all three of Canada’s major party leaders (and Elizabeth May via Twitter) talked about climate change.
This is a pretty big deal when you remember that in 2011, climate barely registered in the debates or anywhere on the campaign trail. Unfortunately, the leaders’ talk rang pretty hollow. When pipelines came up in the debate, rather than speak to the simple scientific reality that tar sands expansion and climate action are incompatible, and that no new pipelines are needed, the three leaders argued about who was a better friend to the oil patch.
The truth is, I don’t expect any of these parties or leaders to get where we need them to on climate alone. They are going to need to be pushed, and that’s where we come in.