Owning and writing our climate story

By Priyanka Lloyd, Incoming Executive Director, Green Economy Canada

I’m thrilled to be returning to Green Economy Canada next week in my new capacity as Executive Director. With a new Green Economy Hub in development in London, funding secured to begin scaling nationally to three more communities over the next year, and an expanded team to support greater growth and impact of all of our Hubs, there is a lot to be excited about as we look ahead.  

As we enter the last month of 2018, it’s also a natural time to pause and reflect on the year gone by. While I’ve had a lot to celebrate personally — the arrival of our second child, settling into a new home, our son starting kindergarten — this year has been sobering and downright depressing in many respects. The nadir for me was the latest IPCC report detailing how dangerously close we are to the edge of irreversible and catastrophic climate change that would deepen economic concerns, increase global refugees, threaten human health and safety through more extreme droughts, storms, and heatwaves, and wipe coastal cities off the map. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, we have 12 years to reduce global emissions by 45% compared to 2010 levels, which will require unprecedented societal transformation and global coordination.  

So how do we hold it altogether? How do we avoid the urge to crawl under a rock and wait for the White Walkers or Mad Max Fury Road?  

For me, this new level of clarity of our climate crisis has awakened an unexpected surge of energy and drive to act. It has sharpened my focus, made me more resourceful and creative in thinking about how to influence climate action, and galvanized me to lean into the discomfort and speak openly and genuinely about climate change with family and friends.

There is no scientific report that has told us it’s too late. The message is: our future is in our hands.

And when we stop feeling like climate change is happening to us, and own the story that we are letting climate change happen, we feel empowered to write the ending the way we see fit.

It’s with this lens and energy that I’m coming back to Green Economy Canada. Our network, and the work of so many others, is showing that addressing climate change is not just about avoiding the thing we fear, but about moving towards the the things we desire — a stronger, more competitive economy; cleaner air and improved health; more accessible, connected and resilient communities; and a liveable planet for generations to come. I also know that while yes, there is a lot of good work already happening on the ground to be inspired by and take heart in, the message from the IPCC and subsequent scientific reports is clear: simply doing more of the same is not enough.  

Challenging the status quo will mean different things to all of us, from a rethink of public policies, to large-scale investments in cleaner energy and infrastructure, to reconfiguring how we run our businesses, to the individual choices we make at home. At Green Economy Canada, this will mean increasing the scale of our ambition to engage more businesses, fostering new ideas and taking more risks to support them in seizing the opportunities of the low-carbon economy, and more effectively leveraging and coordinating efforts with partners across Canada.

I’ll be frank. The urgency and severity of the challenge is daunting, and our public discourse and response to date doesn’t instill much confidence that we’re up to the task. But while we may not yet know the best path to address all of our complex storylines to get to the end of this story, I am 100% certain we all know what we want the ending to be.  

It’s the classic underdog story: the one where we humans as underdogs, start believing in ourselves, work together, and find the courage, tenacity and unshakable resolve to defy the odds and win our struggle. It’s the one where we rise to the challenge of climate change by embracing the opportunity of a cleaner, more prosperous future in every sense of the word. It’s the one where my kids get to read…

“And they lived happily ever after.”

Follow Priyanka on Twitter @PriyankaLloyd

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