Science First, a Winnipeg-based non-profit, is holding a virtual event called Canada’s Green Recovery on Jan. 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. Guest speakers will discuss the economic, scientific and social elements of a green and just recovery for Canada in its battle against climate change and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a question-and answer-session with attendees.
The term “green recovery” refers to a proposed approach to a post-COVID-19 economic recovery that prioritizes environmentally conscious investment and regulation over a “business as usual” return to pre-pandemic norms.
Science First was founded by Nathan Zahn in 2015 as a non-partisan advocacy group. Zahn says their goal is to promote evidence-based policy on a wide range of issues, not only environmental concerns.
He says the event will cover a range of issues around sustainability to identify and discuss areas where science can inform policy, such as exploring what green recovery is, how big of a recovery it should be, what it will look like and what can make it a just recovery.
Guest speakers at the event include Dr. Fletcher Baragar, an associate professor of economics at the University of Manitoba, who will speak about the economic potential of a green recovery for Canada, and Geoff Dembicki, a climate change journalist and author of Are We Screwed? How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change.
Originally from Alberta and surrounded by the oil and gas industry, Dembicki says he relocated to New York to be able to write about climate action in advance of the recent US presidential election.
Dembicki was in New York to witness the September 2019 climate strikes, led by international activist Greta Thunberg, which he describes as a “huge movement of people demanding aggressive action” on the climate crisis.
In all his time writing on climate issues, Dembicki says he had never seen such wide support, with climate strikes occurring worldwide amidst widespread public interest.
“All this momentum and political power was building, and then the pandemic hit, and things were put on hold,” Dembicki says.
Dembicki recognizes that Canada is facing multiple crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its enormous environmental and economic impact – as well as climate change, income inequality, social injustice and a housing crisis for Indigenous people. But, as Dembicki observes, the “pandemic has shown that these crises are all related.”
Dembicki says the way to move forward on major climate action is within the framework of government, because large-scale political action and investment is needed on a national level. He identifies housing as the type of national initiative that could make a real impact, from building sustainable housing for Indigenous communities to retrofitting homes across Canada to be more energy efficient.
“Energy efficiency is a significant climate solution,” Dembicki says, adding that the ultimate goal for Canada is to transition the energy grid from oil, gas and coal, which will also create jobs in the process.
As Dembicki observes, “climate action is often seen as sacrifice and giving things up. The new way of thinking is that it will improve your life,” because climate policies really mean lower energy bills, cleaner air to breathe and a more economically equal and prosperous society, as Dembicki notes.
Published in Volume 75, Number 14 of The Uniter (January 13, 2021)