Murray Rankin is the MP for Victoria.

MP REPORT: Action needed to tackle climate emergency

Murray Rankin is MP for Victoria

In May NDP leader Jagmeet Singh stood up in the House of Commons to move that Canada declare a climate emergency. Make no mistake, it is the most pressing challenge we will face in our lifetimes.

We need to act to forestall the catastrophes of fires, floods and the extinction of millions of species – climate change that we may not be able to adapt to. We are compelled to pursue solutions that cut emissions and reduce dangerous levels of carbon in our atmosphere. The future of our children depends on our success.

So far, the Liberal government isn’t even meeting targets set by Stephen Harper and subsidies for big oil continue to burn through the public treasury – including a $4.5 billion investment in a pipeline B.C. doesn’t need and doesn’t want.

It is not enough, however, to simply identify the source of our problems – we need practical programs to help Canadians lighten their footprint without selling themselves short to get there.

One-third of our emissions are leaking out of our homes, workplaces and every other building we frequent. It’s time to tighten up.

The NDP is proposing a long-term program to retrofit every home in Canada to slash emissions and, in the process, save Canadians money on their energy bills. What’s more, our plan stands out by ensuring that we don’t have to leave people behind as we move forward.

We know that climate change is an emerging crisis, but too many Canadians are struggling just to keep a roof over their heads and put food on their tables. That tells us that we must focus on family-supporting green jobs. We need a just and equitable transition to a more sustainable future.

Big oil enjoys royalty holidays and tax deductions that they say are necessary to “encourage economic activity”. They are clearly counting their financial returns, not the external costs – climate change will be expensive for everyone.

Canada spends billions subsidizing big oil and that has to change. We need to invest in new technologies that give Canadians the option to turn on the lights, heat their house, or get to work without burning through our atmosphere.

What we need is a transition plan that saves families money on their energy bills and puts Canadians to work plugging the leaks. We need to invest now in those sustainable energy sources that can zero out our carbon emissions. And we need to help homeowners who want to lower their carbon footprint, but who can’t cover the cost of making the change.

But we can’t do it without recruiting those same families to carry out the work. We can’t ask Canadians to give up their jobs or ask their families to make do with less. We need training and transition plans for new jobs building energy efficiency into every new home or office building. And we’ll need them there to do the retrofits to bring older buildings back to the future.

It’s not too late to build a better tomorrow.

Murray Rankin is MP for Victoria

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