Climate Code Red

During this week’s federal leaders’ debates, all participants verified they had worked together in a non-partisan way to battle COVID-19.

COVID and its variants do not discriminate — everyone is vulnerable to some degree. And Canadians, because we were all at risk, pulled together in a way that mirrored what we did in World War II. Our governments “had our backs” with generous financial supports, daily communication to keep us informed and tools like testing and vaccines. Sometimes lockdowns were necessary and while they were stressful, Canadians cooperated.

Climate Emergency belief chart, by country

Excerpt from UN Development Program’s “People’s Climate Vote.”

So, why aren’t the federal and provincial governments coming together across party lines to battle climate change? When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared a “Code Red” regarding the climate crisis, they were serious. But the debates showed us party leaders attacking each other’s climate plans rather than coming together, as Annamie Paul of the Green Party pointed out repeatedly. Could this be because 25% of Canadians deny there is a climate emergency? Perhaps if they don’t actually experience the effects themselves, they can deny there is a problem.


We are very fortunate, here in Nova Scotia, in that we have not experienced annual extreme heat, wildfires, drought or floods — yet. But make no mistake, other areas in North America ARE experiencing such things and this is having a real, negative effect on our food security and inflation is inevitable as things become more scarce.

Extreme climate emergencies are occurring throughout the world, creating climate refugees. Already some people are pushing back on Canada welcoming 20,000 Afghanistan refugees, claiming we cannot house and provide adequate medical care to our existing citizens in Nova Scotia so how can we add even more?

Fire burns in Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2016.

Fire burns in Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2016.


The Conference of the Parties (COP26) will happen in October in Scotland and Canada will be expected to sign onto a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions and slow the Earth’s rising temperatures. Canada signed onto the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. Its goal was to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada’s emissions were 21% above 1990 levels as of 2020 while the European Union was down 28% and the United Kingdom was down 43%. The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven mainly by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

In this federal election, let’s demand our federal parties work together on climate change, as it is a non-partisan issue and affects all Canadians and, indeed, all humankind.


Paul Strome

Paul Strome worked 12 years as an educator in the Northwest Territories/Nunavut where he experienced the culture, language and geographic parameters of Indigenous people. He has petitioned the government at every opportunity to bring about the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. As an elder and David Suzuki Ambassador he has championed the Blue Dot Movement in Unama’ki (Cape Breton) and in recent years was the Atlantic regional representative for the Council of Canadians.