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Resolving the Climate Emergency

Science for Peace urges immediate and emergency action on the terrifying warming of our planet, now proceeding at a rate hitherto unimaginable. We are committed to working with other organizations to halt this human-induced global heating, and to supporting the communities, many of them indigenous, on the frontlines of the contest with the oil economy.

There is no “plausible deniability” that would allow people in power to claim they do not know about the state of the climate.  In late 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that temperature rise above 1.5C was catastrophic for humanity and required deep, immediate cuts.  In Fall 2019, 11,000 scientists warned of a looming climate emergency in the journal BioScience.  Yet last December, the COP25 climate meeting ended without agreeing to a clear timetable, without enforceable greenhouse gas cuts, and without addressing loss and damage payments that were promised to poorer, climate-impacted nations.

An excerpt from our 2009 Open Letter on Climate Change, signed by over 500 academics, shows that the dangers were well known a decade ago:  “Societies now face threats of unprecedented severity due to climate change … unprecedented droughts, melting of mountain glaciers vital to major rivers, rising sea levels that threaten island nations and the deltas in Bangladesh and Egypt, and much more. Climate change and other contributing human activities are now causing species extinction at about a thousand times the natural rate…. [We] call for a precise timetable taking Canada to zero fossil fuel emissions in the near future. This means setting a time-profile of maximum allowable emissions, falling quickly to zero. The limits need to be absolute and not subject to trade-offs of any kind. This will inevitably mean winding down the tar sands project, and sizeable reductions of the military. It will require deep readjustment of society.”

We endorse the IPCC’s call to reduce carbon emissions by half by 2030 and attain a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. We do, however, acknowledge that even this goal may not be ambitious enough: many believe the intensified alterations in our climate demand meeting the goal well before 2050.

Ensuring a livable climate will require the progressive closure of coal, oil and gas fields, beginning with the dirtiest, and the promotion of green energy alternatives. In addition, it will be necessary to transform the food system to regenerative organic agriculture and fishing to drawdown the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere to a safer 350 ppm from the existing concentration of more than 410 ppm. We note that the military in all countries is a major, yet largely unacknowledged, contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The transformation of production, consumption and militarism needs not only to be rapid but to be just.

Creating a sustainable world in which social equality and fairness is the goal, is essential for both ethical and practical reasons. We cannot get to a carbon-free world without guaranteeing that no one gets left behind – from those in the global south facing famine and climate calamity, to indigenous communities protecting their lands, to North American workers needing job replacement after the shuttering of extractive industries.

We believe this critical re-make of our economy is achievable and in the universal human interest.  We also believe that it is the duty and responsibility of government to regulate and protect the commons so that all people are assured the basic necessities. It is past time to say “Stop” to the forces sabotaging life.

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