Earlier this month, leaders from around the world gathered in Marrakech, Morocco at the 22nd annual United Nations climate change Conference of the Parties (COP22), a followup to last year’s meeting in Paris. The conference focused on how to achieve continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and how to solidify structures to fund adaptation. Yet, given the U.S. election outcome, there was also much informal discussion about how goals could be achieved with less U.S. participation.
In this period of uncertainty, it would be easy to lose sight of what climate change means to communities in Canada.
This country has experienced some of the most dramatic environmental shifts from climate change globally, particularly in Arctic regions where temperatures are warming more than twice the global average and there are unprecedented rates of summer sea ice loss.
It is essential that we take stock of our knowledge, experience and values, and advance with a common vision. Consideration should especially be given to how to ensure that voices of historically underrepresented communities continue to be heard within Canada and beyond.
Indigenous organizations, communities and scientists have widely concluded that environmental changes are increasingly affecting health of northern communities, including impacts to food security, mental health, housing and cultural activities. Specifically, travel has become more dangerous with greater unpredictability of hazards, housing overcrowding is being exacerbated by permafrost change and there is mounting pressure on ecological systems and traditional food sources.
Few countries have experienced the magnitude of environmental changes that Canada has to date. Knowledge developed from successful adaptation programs, Indigenous knowledge and scientific experience researching vulnerability and resilience should be shared. Further, as highlighted in the Truth and Reconciliation report, it is important that we continue to remember and remind others of past failures.
We have a shared responsibility to continue to address climate change impacts within and outside our borders, advocating for the underrepresented voices within our country and around the world. Canada is defined not by its neighbours, but by the voices and policies that come from within.