Elizabeth May on climate inequality

The Green Party leader has been working on the climate change agenda since 1986, but she’s still hopeful.

In the latest in the University of British Columbia’s inequality series, put on by the Liu Institute for Global Issues, Green Party leader Elizabeth May issued a call to action for the new Liberal government ahead of the Paris Climate Change Conference at the end of the month.

“The status quo has the benefit of inertia,” May told the audience, “and change takes courage. The negotiations that will open November 30 in my view are really [the] last chance to have a treaty that avoids levels of climate crises that are so severe that I don’t know how we can look our children in the face.”

May recounted her long involvement in Canada’s history of action – and inaction – on combating climate change, start with her time working with the government of Brian Mulroney.

She explained that we are facing two equality issues when it comes to the environment. The first, and most profound, is intergenerational inequality – tackling the fact “our society is very poor at thinking forward…thinking beyond the next election…beyond the next quarterly report.” The most important part of the discussion should be asking what our generation owes to future generations.

The second equality issue, says May, is that the climate crisis has been created by the industrialized world, “full stop.” Industrialized nations must take the reigns and help to create a treaty that would take into account that the poorest nations need help countering the effects of severe weather, rising sea levels, etc.

The Green Party leader is encouraged by many of the moves that Justin Trudeau and his cabinet are making, but thinks they need to hear from every Canadians that it is not enough to “have better words” and to say the days of the Harper government are over.

“If we want to strike a blow for global equality, and if we want to do something for intergenerational equity, then you’ve got 20 days. We’ve got 20 days to convince our new government to go to the climate negations and make a real difference, not just to be better than we once were, but to be the best we can be, to show up with meaningful commitments for climate action, meaningful commitments for global equality, meaningful commitments for intergenerational equity.”

Also in the series

The Politics of Inequality series is a partnership between OpenCanada and the Lind Initiative at the University of British Columbia.


A Movement Rises

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Bailout byproduct: A less equal Greek society

The agreement of a third bailout takes the edge off the financial crisis, but widens the gap in Greece between those at the bottom and those who have the means to weather the storm.   

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Inequality: a fact, an interpretation, and a policy recommendation

Tackling inequality and poverty aren’t mutually exclusive; rather, efforts devoted to fighting the former contribute to solving the latter. 


A discussion with Jeffrey Sachs

The American economist gave a presentation at the University of British Columbia as part of the Liu Institute for Global Issues’ Lind Initiative.


Jill Abramson on gender inequality

In this candid interview, Abramson sits down with the CBC's Anna Maria Tremonti as part of the Lind Initiative with UBC's Liu Institute for Global Issues.

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What the world can learn from Latin America’s gay rights movement

The region has a ways to go for same-sex equality but specific cases show how coalitions, institutions and the strategic framing of demands can help create policy change.


Video Killed a Star Charity: The downfall of Invisible Children

Was one high-profile advocacy video the undoing of Invisible Children, or was it the final straw for an NGO whose work was built on misplaced intentions? Andrew Green visits northern Uganda to find out.


Chris Hedges on inequality in the United States

 Journalist, author & activist Chris Hedges spoke at the Munk School of Global Affairs on October 20.


The forgotten corners of environmental inequality

As air pollution, lead poisoning and other environmental impacts affect the marginalized more acutely, hopes of sustainability and equality begin to sprout in gardens around the globe.


A marriage to celebrate: that of gender equality and economic development

In Bangladesh, home to the world’s worst record on child marriage, women’s rights are slowly making gains.


What Canada's election campaign has missed: The inequality debate

With real problems plaguing lower income Canadians, why has this election campaign focused so much on the middle class?


Q&A: Economic growth — magic or model?

An interview with economist Dambisa Moyo on the state of inequality and the solutions in our midst.


What’s left out of the ‘gender in the workplace’ debate: the race factor

Advice for women of colour to ‘lean in’ falls flat when being strong and black is still viewed as a threat.


The Great Divide – Joseph Stiglitz on inequality

The Nobel Laureate discusses the causes and consequences of inequality and what we can do about it.


A Conversation with Joseph Stiglitz and Dean Robert Helsley

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz discusses the issue of inequality with the head of the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.