‘We know it’s possible’: Severn Cullis-Suzuki sees roadmap for climate response in Canada

Environmental and cultural activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki is taking the reins as CEO of the renowned environmental organization, the David Suzuki Foundation, just as the world reaches a critical juncture to take action to stop the worst outcomes of the climate emergency.

Climate experts describe the upcoming United Nations climate conference, COP26, as the last chance for world leaders to limit global warming to the 1.5 C threshold required by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

But since member countries have been negotiating on how to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions for 26 years with little success, Cullis-Suzuki, a longtime activist for climate justice and sustainability who spoke at her first summit of the UN in 1992 at age 12, is somewhat dubious. The dramatic action needed to stop the climate crisis will take place at the negotiating tables in Glasgow in November.

Holding governments, like Canada, accountable for their commitments and ensuring that they adopt just and meaningful solutions to mitigate global warming will be the result of pressure from citizen groups, indigenous peoples, and environmental organizations such as the foundation, founded three decades ago. by his parents David Suzuki and Tara Cullis.

“Shifting humanity toward survival will require us all to step up,” Cullis-Suzuki said, adding that there is a new form of climate denial in the empty promises made by world leaders on climate change.

“All the words that are going to come out of any international meeting, public pressure has to be there for them to mean something.”

While the weather situation is overwhelming and urgent, Cullis-Suzuki said that after serving as a board member for 14 years, she is honored to take on the work of her parents, who put their hearts into building the foundation, and which is equally committed to actions and solutions based on science, justice, clean energy and strong ecosystems.

The pandemic had tremendous repercussions around the world, but the COVID-19 crisis sparked a model of action that can be applied to global warming and the collapse of biodiversity, he said.

The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19, cooperation across partisan lines, and, for the most part, reliance on experience and science to tackle the problem in Canada are recipes for action that would be equally helpful. to address the problem. climate crisis, Cullis-Suzuki said.

“The cat is out of the bag,” he said. “Suddenly, we know what an emergency response looks like … and now we know it is possible.

“COVID could have been the key to being able to deal with this equally existential crisis.”

“All the words that are going to come out of any international gathering, the public pressure has to be there for them to mean something,” said Severn Cullis-Suzuki, @DavidSuzukiFDN’s new CEO on government accountability at # COP26.

Like the pandemic, the climate emergency affects all countries and societies in the world, albeit in very different ways, Cullis-Suzuki said, from indicators such as the extreme heat that killed hundreds of people in British Columbia this summer, or the wildfires that swept through the Pacific Northwest. , they are no longer going to be exceptional events.

“We have to be prepared to move into this new era of adaptation mitigation, and that’s just part of our reality,” he said.

But indigenous peoples, and working in collaboration and solidarity with those nations, are a key component in addressing the ecological crisis, he added.

“My hope for humanity is through indigenous cultures that represent, time tested over millennia, alternative ways of being,” said Cullis-Suzuki.

“There are so many examples of different ways that humans can organize themselves that they don’t have to end up destroying our own ecological infrastructure.

“As we seek solutions, indigenous peoples have a leadership role to play in how we navigate this bottleneck.”

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer


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