Jordan: If you’re older than I don’t know say 30 and you see hundreds of thousands of Canadians on the streets today striking for climate action, you might feel guilty and you probably should I do. And this week in front of the whole world that guilt was given a furious voice
News Clip: People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing we are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of Eternal economic growth. How dare you?
Jordan: Greta Thurnberg has defined the generational gap on climate change, but as angry and eloquent and inspiring as she might be she has not done it alone. It is a whole generation of young people who will inherit a world that may or may not be livable depending how the next decade goes that have coalesced around Greta and that’s what took her from a lone girl outside of Swedish Parliament to the leader of a global movement most of those young. People don’t get front pages. They don’t get to yell angrily and politicians face. They don’t even necessarily protest and try to convince people how dire it is. Some of them just try to help us all understand not to force people to see the world the way they do but to arm everyone with the information needed to make their own decision, but what climate change means to them and who is best positioned to lead on it? It’s one of those young people who joins us today. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings, and this is the big story Isabel Hurley is a master student in biology at Dalhousie. Hi Isabelle.
Isabelle: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Jordan: No problem. We wanted to talk to somebody who had an incredibly interesting project on the go but also, Might be on strike today. Are you on strike?
Isabelle: I am going to be heading down to the rally in Halifax today.
Jordan: Why you doing?
Isabelle: I’m going on strike because I think that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time the UN announced fairly recently that we have about 10 years to turn the ship around and keep warming to below 1.5 degrees. So I’m going on strike just to draw attention to this very large environmental issue and to hopefully get some media coverage and some politicians taking notice and I think. They have well tell me about your project that aims to help with that because you developed a website called Enviro vote. Tell me where it came from and what it does. Yeah, well, it’s kind of fantastic that I’m talking to you. The first thing I do every morning is listening to the big story podcast. And so I believe it was like June 24th this year and I was walking to go see my supervisor and I was listening to the podcast in the morning walking to work and you had someone on named Katharine Hayhoe she’s a climate scientist in the US. Yes, and she had suggested that somebody in Canada should put together a website that would make. It really easy for voters to look and compare the environmental platforms of the major political parties in Canada leading up to the election and I mentioned this to my supervisor and Derek Tim’s are and he said yeah, we could totally do that if you wanted to so from there. We contacted Catherine to get her permission and we’ve all been working together to build this platform that does compare the very specific environmental policies of the different Federal parties.
Jordan: Yeah, because I actually remember that conversation with Kathryn and the one problem that I had is I could ask her anything and she’s smart enough to answer it. But I don’t even know what questions to ask to get a comprehensive view of what these climate policies will do. So how well do Canadians understand where their parties actually stand on climate versus kind of the promises that they here.
Isabelle: Yeah, I think that and Catherine I think much in this host herself in the original podcast, but this is my field of study and I found it very confusing to figure out where they stood. So basically what we decided to do was to look at the two biggest issues to biggest environmental issues and that’s climate change and biodiversity loss. And those are the two biggest environmental issues. I’ve identified by the UN and then from there we broke it down into subcategories like under climate change. You’ll find the Paris agreement or carbon pricing which is always a Hot Topic and then under whatever if you lost you might you find things like protected areas or species at risk and so our idea was just to break it down into those subcategories and include a very quick graphic that will allow readers to easily digest where the different parties stand on climate change and biodiversity.
Jordan: Tell me why biodiversity is such a huge part of it because to be honest and I’m guilty of it too. When we discuss climate change. We usually just say climate change. You’ve made a point not to
Isabelle: I think that often people when they think of environmental issues, they slowly think of climate change, but there’s an equally important environmental issue and that’s biodiversity loss. So we have a million species that are at risk of going extinct. And so the UN just this earlier this summer really. Report saying that it was an environmental issue on the same scale as climate change and of course climate change is also contributing to A diversity law. So it’s very complex to separate
Jordan: when I look at Enviro vote and I’m just going to give some examples for people who are listening and. Been there yet. You basically have categories the categories you described and then under each of them there, you know, four to seven points things like intends to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies or against future pipelines and you know parties will get a check mark or an ax or their left gray, which means that they haven’t made a policy one way or the other yet.
Isabelle: Exactly. So the conservatives the NDP and the green party have all rolled out their entire environmental platforms and you may have noticed this week. The Liberals are just unrolling there’s right now and so every day I’m combing through the Liberals press releases. And so those grey boxes are slowly going to turn into either check marks or X’s or maybe so for instance Trudeau said that he wants to protect 25% of the ocean and land by 2020. And we addressed that in questions and statements 25 and 26. So unfortunately doesn’t want to protect 30% which is what scientists have recommended. So we gave him an X for that.
Jordan: Who determines which of these points are included in deserving of judging policies based on them? Where did they come from?
Isabelle: The different points and policy issues largely came from a document that was put together by environmental NGOs in Canada. And these are issues that they wanted to see all of the political parties addressing in their platforms and then in collaboration with Dr. Hayhoe she added a few as well. So that’s what we came up with. Give voters a pretty broad Strokes look at the major environmental policies.
Jordan: In doing that. Is there a particular area in research that scientists are concerned about the tends to be under addressed by federal plans?
Isabelle: That’s a great question. I think that just like tell you mentioned earlier biodiversity losses is often not talked about as much as as much as climate change and as it stands right now, the only party that has addressed who are as mentioned biodiversity loss in their platform is the NDP. So I think that’s worth noting but. I mean lots of things like the idea of having an expert body that informed all of the climate change policy that hasn’t been addressed by the party. So that’s something that that scientists would hope for as well.
Jordan: Tell me about the section that judges whether or not various plans will keep global warming under 2 degrees. Because it looks like none of them can promise that or even 1.5 degrees which is also full of x’s which is depressing to look at.
Isabelle: Yeah, it’s not very encouraging so. Basically, we relied on the research of Dr. Mark Jaccard at SFU, and he modeled the climate change platforms of the conservative party and found that they weren’t going to meet the two degree warming Target and he also modeled the current Liberal Party platform and found that they weren’t going to meet the target either the NDP and the green party have plans that. I could meet the target, but unfortunately, they don’t have enough detail for Dr. Jaccard to be able to model them right now. So the parties had a lot of them have stated that they intend to meet these targets. However, the policies don’t match up with that intention.
Jordan: Well in how realistic are some of the plans that they’re getting check marks for, you know, are you are you judging them and giving them a check mark based on whether or not they can actually achieve it or just whether. Said they will you know, I know the Liberals made a pretty impressive promised this week to get Canada carbon neutral does that count or do they have to show a way that they’ll actually achieve it?
Isabelle: Right? So as it stands we’ve given them a maybe for that because they’ve maintained their 20 30 targets as they are. So they’re keeping the same Target that we had under the previous conservative government and then they’re saying that by 2050 will be able to. The net zero, so. I really hope that works but there there is a lot of detail missing but how we decide whether to give them a check mark or an X is based on whether or not it’s in their platform. We’re trying to make this as unbiased as possible. So for instance, if you look at under the transportation section, we’ve given them all check marks to thing that they’re committed to making zero emission Vehicles more affordable and Canada and all them in their platforms have ways of doing that. They’re not all the same but. All they are all committed to doing that
Jordan: now I am asking you for a judgment call because when you went through this I won’t ask you to pick one one party as the worst on the environment, but we always talk about the green party being the party for voters who believe there’s a climate crisis. Do they Stack Up does their policy stack up to that are they clearly out in front as they claim?
Isabelle: I would say that if you give it a quick glance now, it’s hard to say because the Liberals are still unrolling their platform. But as far as just looking at who’s getting green check marks, the green party is is definitely out front and as well as the NDP. But I think what’s excellent about this election cycle is that if you go to the top of the page the three first statements do they acknowledge that climate change is real they all do that. They all acknowledge that climate change is caused by humans and they all acknowledge that we need to do something about our carbon emissions and reduce them. So I mean the first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one. So, I think that’s a great place to start and then from there the website gets more specific, but they all are realizing that we do need to cut carbon emissions.
Jordan: Since we’re on an optimistic note right here. I want to ask you how you feel right now because today is the day that the Canadians are striking for climate change. How do you feel over the past couple of weeks watching the conferences from New York and speeches by Greta tune Berg and others about the crisis and how the movement is in general.
Isabelle: Yeah, I am feeling really really happy to see that we’re finally getting the attention to the issue that it deserves. I think that Greta is such a hero. I’m excited for her to win the Nobel Peace Prize as I’m sure she will I’ve been thinking about climate change since I was in grade 4, I watched An Inconvenient Truth and it’s been something that’s been motivating me since then really through to getting my master’s today and building this website and. I’m really inspired by all the young people who are out protesting on the streets and I’m really excited that CBC polls have shown that climate change is one of the top issues that people are thinking about that said in viral vote dossier is not meant to tell you who you should vote for. We think that the environment just like health care or the economy is a major issue in this election and we want to make it easy for voters who are interested in this issue to go and see the difference between the different parties and instead of having multiple tabs open on their computer where they’re trying to sift through darkened field platforms. We’ve done that work for them. And so it should be much easier for them to get a grasp of where every party stands on environmental issues. I want to talk to you about growing up with climate change in general because you mentioned you watch An Inconvenient Truth and grade for so you’re much younger than me. What is it like to have grown up knowing this was kind of an existential threat and then being called into essentially the demographic group that all of us old people are hoping saves us. I think it’s really sat with me as something quite heavy throughout my life and I think at times I would get quite emotional about it and adults would often tell me I was being too emotional as being too sensitive and now it’s don’t say it’s nice but in some ways it is nice to finally be a place where I think we’re all having a real conversation about. What this means and everyone’s engaged and it’s not a partisan issue. Well, I suppose there’s the People’s Party of Canada, but for the most part it’s not a partisan issue and that’s really encouraging to see
Jordan: do you feel resentful towards older generations for their inaction on this? I’m just asking you honestly for what it’s worth I feel guilty.
Isabelle: Yeah, I think I mean it’s it’s always hard. I think you still talk to people who don’t understand why why climate change is an is an issue that it’s already affecting the world around us is not something you have to worry about for future Generations only it’s something you have to worry about for your own life lifetime. So, I don’t know if I can be resentful of people who don’t understand what’s going on, but I’m really really excited that I think it’s going to be harder and hard not know what’s going on. From Greta speaking at the UN to the UN statements themselves and hopefully two people reading information on Enviro vote Canada.
Jordan: So what happens next for Enviro vote? I mean, obviously you’ll Continue to update it as new policies become clear, but in the bigger picture, where would you like to take this?
Isabelle: Well, I’m going to keep it running obviously up until October 21st. And then from there my supervisor directions are and I are both really interested in potentially building somewhere website for other countries and their elections. So I’ve had some interest from someone from Germany already. And so if there are any listeners who are interested in building a similar website to can. To compare the environmental platforms of political parties in their own countries. Please feel free to reach out to us through this site. If you go on our site, you can click on either our Twitter or Instagram icon and every day leading up to the election. We’re going to be posting a topical comparison of the political party platforms.
Jordan: Amazing. Well, thank you so much for taking the time today. Thanks for creating this resource that clearly I needed and probably some of our listeners.
Isabelle: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me and thank you for hosting this podcast which obviously inspired this website
Jordan: amazing full circle. Thanks Isabelle. Have a great day.
Isabelle: You too.
Jordan: Isabelle Hurley is a master’s student in biology at Dalhousie and the creator of Enviro vote dot C A. You really should be looking at it before you vote. That was the big story for more from us including the episode that inspired this episode. You can find them at the big story podcast dossier. You can also talk to us on Twitter and complain about how often we talk about climate change at the big story fpn. We won’t listen to you. You can also find this podcast anywhere you get them an apple on Google on Stitcher on Spotify if you think climate change is a big issue give us five stars because we ain’t letting. Claire Brassard is the lead producer of the big story Ryan Clarke and Stefanie Phillips are our associate producers, Annalise Nielsen is our digital editor Matthew Morrow is our research assistant, and I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend. We’ll talk on Monday.
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