John Haugen had to leave pieces of his history behind when the veld fire arrived.
They were embedded in a collection of baskets belonging to him and his mother, Nlaka’pamux people and members of Lytton First Nation, a community spanning 56 reserves near the confluence of the mighty Fraser and Thompson rivers in British Columbia.
Haugen did not have enough time to grab them before flames burned his house in late June.
“You will never see it again, because the straw artisans who created it are gone,” said Haugen, deputy head of Lytton First Nation. “It’s like a legacy from your past that would put other people in museums, but it was part of a strong family collection and strong family knowledge.”
The mountainous area around Lytton, less than 300 kilometers from Vancouver in the westernmost province of Canada, in Canada, has become a symbol of the climate crisis this summer, as it defeated the summer’s national heat records.
Temperature in Lytton increased to 49.6 C on June 29 as a deadly heat dome – a weather system that traps and compresses hot air, causing temperatures to rise – stretches across the western United States and Canada.
Homes and businesses were engulfed in wildfires and the town of Lytton, with a population of 250, was completely destroyed.
“It was incredibly sobering,” said David Miller, a former Toronto mayor.
‘To see the city just disappear, it’s tragic and frightening, and what’s coming straight to Lytton? The latest international panel on climate change report it says we must act for the next few years to halve emissions by 2030, otherwise we cannot stop it. ”
Top campaign issue
It appears that the message has penetrated the political leaders of Canada, now in the grip of a federal election campaign in which policy on climate change is an important part.
All the major parties have unveiled plans on how Canada can meet its obligations under the Paris international agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.
And nearly a fifth of Canadians said climate change was the most important issue that would determine their vote on September 20, according to a recent Angus Reid Institute poll.
“There is no doubt that tackling climate change is even more important to Canadians than during the last election,” Miller told Al Jazeera. “There is an incredible urgency to act, people expect action.”
But as for Ken Wu, executive director of the Vancouver-based Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, neither party says enough.
“We know that it is possible because of COVID to revitalize large sections of society and all that needs to be done for climate change,” said Wu, who was heavily involved in the struggle to protect the ancient forests of BC.
“This means much stronger targets, so that we stay within our 1.5 degree limit, and much stronger carbon prices and a much stronger protection for nature,” he told Al Jazeera.
With election polls suggesting a dead heat between the ruling Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the Conservatives, led by Erin O’Toole, the game for the country can not be higher.
Like the fourth largest oil producer in the world the climate of Canada is warming up twice the rate of the global average. Despite the Liberal government’s call for increasingly aggressive greenhouse gas emissions, the country continues to increase its emissions, which it worst record among G7 countries.
Environmentalists have also long called on the government to end the expansion of fossil fuel production kill any new projects seek federal approval. But as a country with an abundance of natural resources and an economy built on its exploitation, efforts to curb the fossil fuel industry are particularly sluggish, especially in communities that rely on such projects for jobs and income.
Trudeau’s government too bought despite the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project fixed opposition of environmentalists and some indigenous communities along the route, arguing that revenue generated by the pipeline is needed to fund Canada’s green transition.
“We are going to place a limit on oil sands and oil and gas emissions, and reduce it to a net zero,” Trudeau said in a recent leadership debate in a heated debate, insisting that the country is on track to meet its goals to exceed.
His plan requires greenhouse gases to be 40 to 45 percent lower by 2005 by 2030, and he also plans to increase the price of carbon and eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels by 2023.
The left-wing New Democrats say the Liberals are not aggressive enough. They too have promised to end the subsidies for fossil fuels and it is promising to reduce emissions to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Green Party, well below the polls, will to reach 60 percent in the same period and promised to cancel all new pipeline projects.
The Conservative Party, in turn, is proposing a price on carbon for the first time, after years of fighting tooth and nail. But the party earlier this year refused to officially declare climate change real, weakening its credibility. O’Toole has also just promised to meet Paris’ original targets of reducing emissions by 30 percent below the 2005 level below the 2005 level, which is lower than Canada has since agreed.
‘More daring’ action
For Miller, there are already some solutions in Canadian cities that make the necessary commitments to halve emissions by 2030. , where the federal navy is vehicles go electric.
He said the Liberal platform “is the best thing [party in] the government has ever said in Canada about the climate, but we are not going where we need to be without being braver ”.
Esmé Decker, a 19-year-old student and climate activist at the University of British Columbia, is also looking for brave action.
She is taking out the youth vote during this election, and strongly believes that young voters have the potential to form an environmental policy. She saw it firsthand in workshops on climate change stories she leads at high schools in Vancouver, where students talk about what it was like to grow up with climate change.
“My message to the leaders is to do as much as humanly possible to mitigate the climate crisis,” Decker said. “We have the money, we have the resources to put these solutions into action, so it’s just a matter of agreeing on what we’re going to do and making sure it happens.”