Originally published in the Chronicle Herald on June 10, 2021
After more than a year and a half of delays, the province announced public consultations for the Sustainable Development Goals Act from May 27 to July 26. The time has come for Nova Scotians to speak and be heard.
Climate change impacts the way we all live, move around, feed ourselves and take care of vulnerable communities and habitats.
Currently, one in six Nova Scotian households is affected by food insecurity and another 37 per cent by energy poverty. We still rely on coal for about 55 per cent of our annual electricity needs and have the dirtiest electricity grid in Canada.
Our coastal communities are being pummelled by rising sea levels and unchecked development. While recent government announcements have increased protected areas to 13 per cent of our landmass, many more spaces and species remain at risk. Climate change continues to exacerbate the existing disparities and inequalities within our communities.
If we’re going to tackle the climate crisis — and we must — an ambitious plan forward is needed. A plan with strong, measurable goals that spurs action, creates new jobs, transitions current workers and leaves no one behind.
Our future is calling and it’s green
The public consultations ask Nova Scotians to envision what we want to see in the future. We already possess much of the knowledge and ingenuity to affect positive change. What then could our not-so-distant future be like?
We are gainfully employed in a thriving economy:
The green-shifting of our economy creates thousands of skilled jobs every year and outdated extraction industries are a thing of the past.
We live and work in healthier spaces:
Social housing and government building retrofits, as well as all new construction projects, meet net-zero energy ready standards.
We safeguard the well-being of future generations:
Significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions are a reality with an energy grid that consists of 90 per cent renewable energy sources from wind, sun and hydro.
We get from A to B more efficiently:
Electric cars and buses are the norm, and active transportation corridors in our cities and towns make walking and cycling safer and stress-free.
We eat fresh and local like never before:
Sustainable aquaculture and agriculture are growing through government support of small- and medium-sized food producers. Accessibility, reliability and affordability are the hallmarks of our integrated local food systems.
We are proper caretakers of our land, water and resources:
Twenty per cent of Nova Scotia land is protected, and strong regulations are enforced, ensuring that polluters pay.
We end environmental racism:
Mi’kmaw and African-Nova Scotian communities, and the needs of those most affected by climate change, are central to decision-making, policy and programs.
Public influence on government policy
As the SDGA public consultations get underway, the Ecology Action Centre calls on all people living in Nova Scotia to participate. This is truly a once-in-a-generation chance to influence government policy and make a tangible difference.
Leaders: rouse your communities. Community groups and business owners: it’s time to act. Your ideas, concerns and point of view are needed. Your lived experiences are relevant and meaningful. You don’t have to be an expert on sustainability or the environment; you are already an expert on the realities faced by you, your organization, and people in your community. You just have to be willing to share your thoughts.
Join EAC in calling for a green and just future for all. Learn more about participating in the public consultations at ecologyaction.ca/sdga
Maggy Burns is the executive director of the Ecology Action Centre