'We can be ambassadors of our own fate': A call to action on climate change

A former federal cabinet minister, with climate change credentials that go back to the 1980s, is calling on Prince Edward Islanders to take a more active role in the fight against climate change.

David MacDonald speaking at public form on climate change

Storm surges, such as this one in Long River, P.E.I., are causing significant damage to P.E.I. (Submitted by Marion Paynter)

A former federal cabinet minister, with climate change credentials that go back to the 1980s, is calling on Prince Edward Islanders to take a more active role in the fight against climate change.

David MacDonald is much more optimistic about the opportunities for carbon emission reductions in the coming years. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

David MacDonald was chair of the Parliamentary environment committee in the late 1980s, when climate change was first becoming a political issue. The Toronto conference in 1988 made the first specific call for cuts to carbon emissions.

But MacDonald admits to disappointment about how little has been accomplished since.

"We had governments in Canada and in the United States that said, 'We don't need to take this very seriously,'" MacDonald told CBC's Island Morning.

A changing political environment

MacDonald said he is growing more confident there will be progress in the coming years, and he believes Islanders should put themselves at the centre of it.

"Erosion through [storm] surges is becoming very dramatic and very harmful to the coasts of P.E.I. We're not immune. We need to be doing something," he said.

"We can be ambassadors of our own fate … I think Islanders, when they're given the opportunity, can show some leadership both for themselves and for others who are looking on."

MacDonald is speaking at the Public Forum on Climate Change Adaptation and Islands at UPEI Thursday at UPEI.

With files from Island Morning