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Shifting perspectives towards a unified solution: Tackling the climate change conversation

As the global conversation and demand for action on climate change grow louder every day, informed and timely reporting on the topic is more important than ever. Climate change affects multiple aspect of our lives, like public health. While additional vehicles on the road contribute to higher emissions, extensive car travel can also be correlated with higher rates of obesity and diabetes. Similarly, while air pollution impacts environment, it can also impact respiratory health.

On February 24, The Globe and Mail welcomed a roomful of 150 subscribers in Toronto for an in-depth discussion, sponsored by NATIONAL Public Relations, about the challenges and opportunities Canada, and the world, face in a future marked by climate change. The panelists included Globe reporters Kelly Cryderman, Ryan MacDonald, Adam Radwanski, Marieke Walsh, Kathryn Blaze Baum, James Bradshaw and Ivan Semeniuk.

Conversations such as the ones hosted at this event are critical to advancing initiatives that will benefit our bodies and the planet alike.

Challenges

The first panel of the evening focused on challenges associated with climate change. This section of the discussion was especially active, as one of Canada’s largest mining companies, Teck Resources, had just announced it was backing out of a prospective project in northern Alberta. This announcement served as a symbol of the conflicted and polarizing environment that Canada’s natural resources and energy sectors find themselves operating within, and one that leaves Canadian companies and communities, as well as foreign investors, with more questions than answers.

Though as the panel discussed, this recent news was also an example of stakeholders’ ability to amplify their voices across geographical regions and multiple focus areas, as made evident by protests multiplying across Canada, both in favour and against the development of particular energy projects, bringing awareness to economic benefits and risks, environmental concerns and complex issues of reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous communities.

However, as panelists warned, it can become dangerous when the national conversation focuses too narrowly on what separates Canadians in their efforts to minimize climate change, rather than the collective goal itself.

In the midst of conflicting perspectives, it is important that Canada remains solution-oriented in its approach to climate change action, in a way that empowers all Canadians to contribute and have their voices heard.

Opportunities

Shifting the conversation towards opportunities for the future, the Globe panelists remarked that while sacrifices must be made to enact positive change, nations globally also stand to gain much from greener activities.

For investors, the opportunity to demand disclosure becomes of great importance. While divesting may mean losing a seat at the table, stakeholders can demand more of companies with the power to do better. While not all green investments can work simply because we hope they will, the way Canadians look at financing in a climate-conscious future can push banks to the right direction, changing risk models to account for climate considerations.

Considerations around international collaboration, specifically around energy production, also factored into the panelists’ discussion. As access to energy is tied to a standard of living, Canada must consider how to ensure no communities are left behind in the shift to greener sources. Debates about natural gas as a “transition fuel” must be tackled head-on, along with nuclear energy potentially playing a larger role as a non-renewable, but non-carbon alternative source.

As with the first panel, the speakers agreed that the path forward must be paved by conversations focused on relationship building, and the role that solutions-focused journalism can play in carrying this discussion forward.

For effective climate change action, Canadian communities must be provided the assurance that they will not be left behind in a transition towards more sustainable, clean, eco-conscious technologies. With offices across Canada, and a perceptive understanding of the issues and concerns important to regions and stakeholders in every corner of the country and every industry, NATIONAL is determined to be part of Canada’s positive climate change action.