I’m typing from my home office in Prince Rupert, BC, reflecting on how it’s been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives, and at this moment Europe is facing the largest humanitarian crisis since World War Two. That’s a lot. But there’s more.
Maybe you heard, buried deep after the news about Ukraine and COVID-19, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released. Produced by more than 1,000 scientists and approved by governments of 195 nations, this is the sixth report by the IPCC on where we are at with climate change, its impacts, and future risks. This report is a guide for policymakers to find climate solutions that help us adapt to foreseeable earthly changes while mitigating any further harm to our planet. Needless to say — time is running out. Scientists from the IPCC have been warning us for years that we need to act now, not later. Each year we delay cutting emissions makes it more difficult and costly to reach zero carbon, adapt to the climate crisis, and save lives. Following this year’s report, the United Nations Secretary General said, “delay is death.”
This blog isn’t about leaning into the doom, or the gloom, rather I want you to know that real adaption and mitigation work is being done right now with our partner communities.
What does our in-house climate expert say about the latest IPCC report?
I spoke with Denby McDonnell, Program Manager with Climate Innovation. She’s a climate pundit, so naturally I asked her what the importance of the latest IPCC report was for Canada.
“The things that stand out to me the most is there’s a way bigger emphasis on human systems. IPCC is speaking to how climate isn’t just a climate issue, it’s a systems issue, it affects our economic, social, cultural, environmental, technical, and political systems,” she said over a video call.
This is big, and it’s in line with our approach at Ecotrust Canada. We recognize that the economic system is in need of change. “Our current economy, which is dependent on ever-increasing growth, resource extraction, and unrestrained consumption, is fundamentally at odds with the social and environmental needs of the world.”
If we look at how all the current crises — COVID-19, sanctions on Russia and war in Ukraine, extreme climate events (flooding, wildfires), housing, energy security, food access, and inflation — they are all connected to an economic system built on the premise of endless economic growth. All these challenges point to the fact that, our economy needs a fundamental transformation.
“This may feel overwhelming at first, but the world is changing anyway, and will continue to change so Climate Resilient Development offers us ways to drive change to improve well-being for all – by reducing climate risk, tackling the many inequities and injustices experienced today, and rebuilding our relationship with nature,” stated the writers for the IPCC in a FAQ on Climate Resilient Development.
Preparing local economies for resiliency is what we do at Ecotrust Canada. With communities, like Prince Rupert, Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) First Nation, and Yuneŝit’in First Nation, we are growing regenerative food systems, building resilient homes with clean energy retrofits, and developing tools to meet local housing needs. We are building resilient economies that in turn support a healthy environment, forests, oceans, and so on.
Mitigate and adapt: Changing the way we manage forests
Here’s where we get to the examples of real, innovative, climate solutions on the ground. The Climate Innovation team, Joseph Pallant, Denby McDonnell, and Michelle Connolly, are working with communities to advance projects that change the way we manage forests.
“Forest carbon offset projects are a tool for rural, remote, and Indigenous communities to address both mitigation and adaptation. This allows communities to reduce carbon emissions through improved forest management and conservation of old growth forest. It’s also a tool to adapt to climate change by reducing the risks of flooding and forest fires that we’ve seen the last year in BC and Canada,” Denby said.
As permafrost thaws in Northern Canada, changes to the landscape threaten homes, roads, and cultural sites. The need to mitigate and adapt is also vital.
“This year, we’re working in the Northwest Territories with communities in northern boreal and taiga forests, who are increasingly at risk of wildfire and climate impacts.”
Denby emphasizes the importance the Climate team puts on ensuring that solutions are Indigenous-led. By leading on climate solutions such as forest carbon offset projects, Indigenous communities can exercise greater authority over their territory, and manage their lands and waters in a way that aligns with community values.
The work with our Climate Innovation initiative is just one example of our on-the-ground work at Ecotrust Canada that is addressing the immediate need to transition to better systems that meet our social and environmental needs.
Written by Shannon Lough, Manager of Communications & Engagement, on March 21, 2022