The leap we've been waiting for has finally begun

The multi-generational, Indigenous-led and science-based movement calling for a Green New Deal is surging
Photo: Many Jansen
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Something’s happening across this land. It’s happening in suburbs and cities, small towns and remote villages. It’s happening in all provinces — whether ruled by Liberals, Conservatives, or the NDP. People are waking up to realize that we are in a climate emergency.

The climate crisis is not some big, bad disaster movie waiting at the far end of the century. It’s happening now, all around us — but scientists inform us we have a very small window of time to make the necessary cuts in emissions. And as so many people reach that long-avoided conclusion, we may be on the verge of a huge shift in our politics.

That’s why, as we go across the country with our tour, “A Green New Deal for All” we are selling out venues, facing crowd after crowd crackling with excitement and determination, and seeing a multi-generational, Indigenous-led and science-based movement surge.

This is good news, of course - along with countless others, we have been waiting and working for it for years. In 2015, we were both initiating signatories of the Leap Manifesto. Like the Green New Deal today, the manifesto landed in election season, as an attempt to inject urgency into what seemed to be a profound leadership void on climate.

But a lot has changed in the last four years.

First of all, the climate picture has gotten much worse. We now know that Canada is warming at twice the global rate. Smoke season in B.C. (that’s a thing now) overlaps with flooding season in Ontario and Quebec. As the messages from nature get louder and louder, climate science is racing to catch up, and it’s becoming undeniable that our house is on fire.

But something else is different this time around: the climate movement is on fire, too — all around the world. There’s the fierce determination of Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, the student climate strikes bringing millions of young people out of class and onto the streets from Madrid to Montreal; the defiant civil disobedience of Extinction Rebellion in the UK and beyond; and now, the Green New Deal, taking North America by storm.

Like the Leap Manifesto, the Green New Deal offers solutions — like cutting emissions in half in a decade — that are actually on the scale and at the speed of what is necessary. It proposes not to tinker, but to transform.

And that goes well beyond just the climate crisis. That’s why proponents are calling for huge, emergency-level public investments that would improve the lives of working people in the short term: like a job guarantee with a living wage, excellent benefits and dignity at work. Like universal free public transit, hundreds of thousands of new units of zero emissions non-market public housing, and doubling down on the existing low-carbon economy of care work: daycare, education, health care and the arts.

Like the Leap Manifesto, this is fundamentally a jobs and justice program for the 21st century: one that would undo decades of austerity, address centuries of historical wrongs; restore the public sphere; and put millions back to work in family-supporting jobs.

Unlike the Leap Manifesto, the Green New Deal is being pushed by an army of young organizers who are fanning out in ridings across the country to put politicians on notice. We're done quibbling about a price on carbon. We need fundamental change to win a safe and prosperous future for the many, not just the few. That’s why we’re working together - led by Indigenous communities and powered by a wave of youthful energy - to force this vision onto the ballot in October.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Avi Lewis is a filmmaker, journalist and co-founder and strategic director of The Leap.
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