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Climate Change Briefing Note for Federal Candidates

We created a Briefing Note on the Climate Crisis and its impacts in the Comox Valley that was sent to each of our local candidates running in the Federal Election.


The research we have done to complete these concrete actions in our local region tell us there is no question that climate change is a health issue and as nurses we have a responsibility to do something about it.


These are only a few examples and the options for action are limitless. We embrace partnerships with other groups who are committed to the well-being of our planet. With a collective voice and actions we can change the world and support health for all!





Briefing Note: Addressing Climate Change in the Comox Valley


Produced by: Comox Valley Nurses for Health and the Environment (https://www.cvnhe.org)


We are a group of actively practicing, student, and retired nurses in the Comox Valley. We raise awareness, implement actions, and undertake advocacy to address climate change.


Prepared for: Federal candidates in North Island – Powell River and Courtenay-Alberni ridings.


Purpose: Climate change is a health issue in the Comox Valley. There is a need for local Members of Parliament to advocate for policies that contribute to mitigation, adaptation, and building resilience to climate change.


Background:

Human activities have caused Canada’s climate to warm and the climate crisis is a health crisis. Changes have been observed to temperature, precipitation, snow and ice cover, freshwater availability, ocean warming and acidification, and sea level rise. These effects are predicted to intensify in the future (1). Extreme weather events, changes to the geographic distribution and transmissibility of infectious diseases, and worsening air quality have direct effects on the physical and mental health of Canadians (2). Displacement caused by floods and fires can also cause trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (3). The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above current temperatures to mitigate climate-related risk to natural and human systems (4) and Canada has signed on to the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so they begin declining rapidly (3).


The effects of climate change will disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, including those living in poverty, the young and the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses (2). This is of great concern to nurses and other health care providers – climate change and its effects are a social justice issue. Acting early (preparedness and prevention) improves our ability to adapt to some of the impacts of climate change (5). Strategies to prevent and adapt to climate related changes have many co-benefits that will improve the quality of life of Canadians and benefit the economy by reducing health care costs (3).


Current Situation the Comox Valley:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and solid waste increased by 8.8% from 176,099 tons in 2010 to 191,653 tons in 2012 (6).

  • Transportation accounted for 58% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, followed by 27% for buildings and 15% for solid waste (6).

  • Provincially determined maximums for PM2.5 air pollution have been exceeded every year from 2012 to 2016, leading to an increased risk of heart attack for local residents ages 65 years and older. In 2015, road dust accounted for 46.2% of PM2.5, followed by 24.4% from open burning and 19.1% from space heating (6).

  • During cold season when residential wood burning is at its highest, the risk of heart attack for Comox Valley residents over 65 years increases by 19% (6).


Key Recommendations:

  • Promote climate justice and a just transition to an equitable and sustainable economy for Canadians by supporting the clean energy sector, reducing fossil fuel subsidies, requiring industries to reduce polluting materials, and enhancing clean energy transportation options.

  • Create climate, energy and health policy to align with the science of limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5°C and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

  • Assist Indigenous and vulnerable populations to adapt to changes in their local environments due to climate change.

  • Promote climate-resilient communities and protect Canadians from the health effects of climate change, including an increase in vector-borne diseases and air pollution.


Questions:


If elected, how will you:

  • Protect vulnerable populations and the rights of Indigenous peoples whose health and land have disproportionately been affected by environmentally disastrous projects?

  • Work with provincial and municipal governments to create climate-resistant communities that promote individual and community health?

  • Work for climate justice and a just transition to an equitable and sustainable economy for Canadians while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement?


References

(1) Canada’s Changing Climate Report, 2019. https://changingclimate.ca/CCCR2019/

(2) Government of Canada Climate Change and Public Health Fact Sheet, 2018. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/environmental-public-health-climate-change/climate-change-public-health-factsheets.html

(3) Canadian Nurses Association, 2019. https://elections.cna-aiic.ca/-/media/elections/pdf/2019-pdfs/2019-cna-election-platform.pdf?la=en&hash=7BB202ED2ECA41B3A56EBDC75163E648F977DF04

(4) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018. Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm

(5) National Climate Assessment, 2014. https://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/report-findings/human-health

(6) Comox Valley’s Vital Signs, 2018. https://cvcfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Comox-Valley-Vital-Signs-2018-reduced-4-1.pdf



Contact: Helen Boyd R.N. M.A. -Coordinator of Comox Valley Nurses for Health and the Environment - cvnhe@telus.net

Endorsed by: Comox Valley Community Health Network