Photo: BC Election 2013: When citizens come together, government follows

By Ian Bruce, Science and Policy Manager

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In 2006, public concern over the threat of climate change was at an all-time high as daily news headlines showcased findings from leading climate scientists and people tuned in to Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth'. And the findings were startling: carbon emissions were rapidly building up in the atmosphere, surrounding the Earth like a heat-trapping blanket and disrupting our climate with severe droughts, flooding and erratic storms around the world. B.C. was no exception.

Intense storms and winds snapped massive old growth trees like match sticks in Vancouver's Stanley Park. Floods from severe rain in the Fraser and Kootenay valleys destroyed homes. Hotter temperatures in BC's Interior fueled some of the worst forest fires on record, burning hundreds of homes near Kelowna. Warmer winter temperatures allowed the mountain pine beetle, whose population is kept in check by colder winter periods, to spread and devour tens of billions of dollars worth of pine forest and put the livelihood of 25 Interior communities at risk. British Columbians saw first-hand the potential threat of intensified global warming to their families and their homes.

This was when the B.C. government was moving to build the first two coal-fired power plants for the province, a plan that would dramatically increase our carbon pollution and turn our back on global efforts to find solutions. British Columbians came together. Environmental groups called for urgent action on climate change and showed how solutions could improve our quality of life. Faith leaders, labour leaders, economists, community groups, small town and big city mayors and entrepreneurs took action in calling for climate leadership. While motivations differed — from a moral responsibility to act, to improving economic competiveness — one thing was clear: we wanted the province to be a climate leader.

People power worked. In 2007, the B.C. government made climate action a top priority and cancelled plans to build the coal-fired power plants and even went on to introduce B.C.'s landmark carbon tax.

Six years later, as we approach a provincial election in B.C., there's a risk that environmental innovation and leadership is taking a back seat to boom-and-bust carbon-intensive resource extraction.

But we can make our voices heard. Voting for the environment is a way to influence policy and our future. The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraging our supporters to vote with the environment in mind and ask their families, friends and networks to vote that way too.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Write your candidates here »

We're supporting three policies that offer practical solutions for safe coastal waters, clean air and protected wildlife. These are policies we feel will have real impact in setting B.C. on the right environmental course

British Columbians demanded — and got — strong environmental leadership before. Let's do it again on May 14.

April 4, 2013

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