North American medical and psychological professional associations have sounded the alarm about ‘Ecoanxiety’, a newly-identified psychological disorder stemming from worries and a sense of hopelessness about the future of ecosystem degradation and climate change. ’Ecotherapy’ includes exploring how individual actions can make a difference by influencing the attitudes and behaviors of others.
In Canada, youth mental health is a huge concern. According to Youth Mental Health Canada, suicide accounts for almost a quarter of all deaths of 15-24 year olds. My Constituency Youth Council Youth flagged mental health as a key priority, which is why last fall we co-organized a public event for 60 students to discuss mental health challenges and solutions. Taking action on matters that generate anxiety about the future is undoubtedly positive for health and well-being.
In my work as a Member of Parliament I meet people of all ages who dedicate their time and resources to advocate for protecting nature and stopping climate change. In preparing for the UN COP24 climate conference I was inspired by my meeting with British Columbian youth delegates with a fierce determination to seek international climate change solutions.
In 2015 Canadians elected a government committed to protecting environmental wellbeing and reversing Canada’s climate emissions trajectory. We implemented a national price on pollution, and many other legislative, regulatory and policy measures, a few of which I list below:
- Founded the Powering Past Coal Alliance – an international alliance to end coal power.
- Ending coal-fired power so 90% of Canada’s electricity is generated from clean sources by 2030.
- Reduced government’s own emissions by 32% through the Centre for Greening Government
- Investing $21.9 billion for green infrastructure
- Spearheaded the G7, 5-Nation Ocean Plastics Charter, committing $100 million to reduce Canada’s plastic waste.
- $1.5 Billion Oceans Protection Plan to restore and protect marine ecosystems.
- Banned microbeads
- Increased marine and coastal protected areas from 1% to 7.5%
- Restored environmental protections removed by the previous government, replacing the National Energy Board with a better environmental assessment process.
- $167.4 million Whales Initiative to restore Southern Resident Killer Whale populations
I’m confident a critical mass of citizen support will help our government move even further; I experienced that years ago when working to create the foundation for BC’s successful climate plan. Your work can help others transform ecoanxiety into ecoaction, to better protect nature and inspire others to take action too.
You can find a copy of the report on “Canada’s Changing Climate Report” here.