Transcript: Greener Living Post COVID-19 | May 20, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a pale-yellow shirt and a striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Greener living after COVID-19."

Steve says WHETHER IT'S WILD GOATS RECLAIMING A WELSH TOWN OR COYOTES AMBLING DOWN ONTARIO CITY STREETS, WILDLIFE AND THE NATURAL WORLD ARE EXPERIENCING THIS LOCKDOWN MUCH DIFFERENTLY THAT WE HUMANS ARE. DOES THIS HOLD ANY LESSONS FOR US BIPEDS GOING FORWARD? LET'S ASK: IN SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA: LEAH STOKES, SHE'S ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA...

Leah is in her thirties, with long brown hair in a ponytail. She's wearing a black blazer and a tan blouse.

Steve continues AND WE'RE GLAD TO HAVE YOU ON TVO TONIGHT, PROFESSOR. HOW ARE THINGS GOING IN YOUR WORLD?

Leah says OH, IT'S PRETTY GOOD IN CALIFORNIA, ESPECIALLY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WHERE I AM. THERE AREN'T TOO MANY CASES AND WE'VE BEEN SEEING THE BENEFITS OF SOME CLEANER AIR DOWN HERE. SO OVERALL IN SANTA BARBARA, WE ARE PRETTY LUCKY.

Steve says WE HAVE DEFINITELY SEEN THE PICTURES OF LOS ANGELES LOOKING CLEANER AND I WILL GET TO THAT IN A SECOND. LET'S JUST START WITH SOME EXAMPLES IN WHICH THE NATURAL WORLD MIGHT BE THRIVING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE'RE NOT AS OUT THERE AS WE ONCE WERE. WHAT WERE YOU SEEING?

The caption changes to "Leah Stokes. University of California, Santa Barbara."

Leah says YEAH. THERE'S BEEN SOME REPORTING OF ANIMALS RECLAIMING AREAS THAT HUMANS HAVE BEEN IN IN THE PAST, SO BOBCATS, FOR EXAMPLE, THEY SAW COYOTES RUNNING ACROSS I THINK THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE IN SAN FRANCISCO. SO IN SOME URBAN AREAS WILDLIFE IS COMING BACK. I TALKED TO A FRIEND WHO SAID THERE WAS A BEAR IN THEIR CITY. THOSE KINDS OF STORIES ARE BECOMING MORE COMMON AS MANY PEOPLE STAY IN THEIR HOMES.

Steve says I THINK BEARS IN THE CITIES IS A BIT OF A PROBLEM, BUT IF IT'S JUST MORE COYOTES, MORE BEAVERS IN THE RIVERS AND THAT KIND OF THING, ARE WE GOOD WITH THAT?

Leah says YEAH, I THINK THAT WILDLIFE IN GENERAL IS SOMETHING THAT, YOU KNOW, WE CAN ALL APPRECIATE.

Steve says OKAY. LET'S TALK ABOUT LOS ANGELES, BECAUSE IT IS TRUE, WE HAVE SEEN THE PICTURES OF THE SKIES OVER L.A. LOOKING CLEANER THAN I THINK I CAN EVER RECALL AT ANY TIME IN MY LIFE. BESIDES THE OBVIOUS OF BEING ABLE TO BREATHE MORE EASILY, WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS FOR HUMAN AND ANIMAL WELL-BEING THAT THIS NOW PROVIDES FOR?

Leah says YEAH. SO I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SEEING THE BENEFITS OF CLEANER AIR. A LOT OF THE AIR POLLUTION THAT WE HAVE IN CITIES, INCLUDING IN LOS ANGELES, BUT CERTAINLY ALSO IN TORONTO, COMES FROM CARS. SO PEOPLE DRIVING AROUND WITH INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES AND BURNING FOSSIL FUELS, THAT CREATES NOT ONLY CARBON POLLUTION BUT LOCAL AIR POLLUTION, SMOG AND THINGS LIKE THAT. AND I THINK WHAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND IS THAT WE DON'T NEED TO ALL STAY HOME TO HAVE CLEANER AIR EVERY DAY. IF WE JUST USE THE TECHNOLOGY THAT'S ALREADY AVAILABLE, THAT'S ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND PUBLIC TRANSIT, WE COULD HAVE CLEANER AIR EVERY SINGLE DAY. SO I'M HOPEFUL THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO SEE THE LESSON IN ACTUALLY USING THE CLEAN TECHNOLOGY THAT WE HAVE.

Steve says LET ME DO A QUICK FOLLOW-UP ON THAT. BECAUSE AUTO MANUFACTURERS HAVE OFTEN SAID, LOOK, WITH ALL THE POLLUTION CONTROL DEVICES WE HAVE IN THE MODERN-MADE CAR, WE ARE NOT THE SOURCE OF THE POLLUTED SKIES OVER THE BIG CITIES OF THIS WORLD. TRUE OR FALSE?

The caption changes to "Leah Stokes, @leahstokes."

Leah says THAT'S DEFINITELY FALSE. INCLUDING IN TORONTO, FOR EXAMPLE, THE COAL PLANT SHUT DOWN [indiscernible] AND AIR IMPROVEMENTS HAVE HAPPENED AFTER THAT. A LOT OF THE EXISTING AIR POLLUTION THAT'S STILL CONTINUING IS COMING FROM CARS, AND THAT'S CERTAINLY THE CASE IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA. SO THE FACT IS THAT WE NEED GOVERNMENTS TO BE SUPPORTING ELECTRIC VEHICLES, AND UNFORTUNATELY, WHEN PREMIER DOUG FORD TOOK OFFICE, HE IMMEDIATELY GOT RID OF THE REBATE THAT WAS PROPELLING ONTARIANS TO BE BUYING ELECTRIC VEHICLES. SO RIGHT NOW ONLY ONE IN 50 CARS THAT ARE SOLD IN ONTARIO ARE ELECTRIC VEHICLES, AND WE REALLY NEED OUR GOVERNMENTS TO BE SUPPORTING THESE TECHNOLOGIES MORE SO THAT WE CAN HAVE CLEAN AIR EVERY DAY.

Steve says THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN CANADA DID REINSTATE SOME OF THOSE SUBSIDIES, ALTHOUGH PERHAPS NOT AS GENEROUSLY AS THE PREVIOUS PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT HERE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO DID. BUT IF THE AMOUNT OF... I MEAN THE AMOUNT OF CARBON RIGHT NOW IS NIL, REALLY, IT'S INSIGNIFICANT. WHAT COULD TAKE PLACE IF SUBSIDIES TO BUY ELECTRIC-POWERED CARS WERE TO BE REINSTATED IN A BIGGER WAY?

Leah says WELL, YOU DON'T HAVE TO QUESTION THAT TOO MUCH BECAUSE BRITISH COLUMBIA AND QUEBEC HAVE KEPT IN PLACE THEIR REBATES FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES, AND RIGHT NOW 10 percent OF CARS THAT ARE SOLD IN BRITISH COLUMBIA ARE ELECTRIC VEHICLES. CONTRAST THAT WITH ONTARIO WHERE THE REBATE WENT AWAY AND WE'RE ONLY SEEING 2 percent SALES. SO YOU'RE RIGHT. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CREATED A 5,000 dollar REBATE AFTER THE ONTARIO REBATE, WHICH WAS 14,000 dollars, WENT AWAY. SO WE DO HAVE SOME COVERAGE FROM OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. BUT WE'RE REALLY NOT SEEING THE KIND OF ADOPTION RATES THAT WE NEED TO BE SEEING, NOT ONLY TO TACKLE AIR POLLUTION BUT OF COURSE ALSO TAKE ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS.

Steve says OKAY. SO THAT'S ONE WAY IN WHICH WE CAN MAKE MORE PERMANENT SOME OF THE GAINS THAT WE HAVE MADE DURING THE COURSE OF THIS CRISIS. WHAT ABOUT, FOR EXAMPLE, THE BENEFITS OF WORKING FROM HOME MORE IN THE FUTURE COMPARED TO THE WAY WE DID IT IN THE PAST? WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES THERE?

Leah says YEAH. YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE SEEING THAT MAYBE THEY DON'T NEED TO BE TRAVELLING AS MUCH AS THEY WERE. THAT'S CERTAINLY THE CASE FOR ME FOR MY WORK. BUT, UNFORTUNATELY, THINGS LIKE AIRPLANE TRAVEL IS ACTUALLY A REALLY SMALL PERCENT OF GLOBAL EMISSIONS AS WELL AS CANADA'S EMISSIONS AND THE UNITED STATES' EMISSIONS. IN THE U.S., JUST 3 percent OF EMISSIONS IN TERMS OF CARBON ARE COMING FROM AIRPLANE FLIGHTS. SO WHEN WE THINK ABOUT TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS, WE HAVE TO BE THINKING ABOUT MUCH BIGGER SEGMENTS OF THE ECONOMY, AND THAT'S REALLY WHY I FOCUS SO MUCH ON CARS. PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE GOING BACK TO WORK EVENTUALLY, AND WE NEED A TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS THEM TO GET TO WORK WITHOUT HAVING TO POLLUTE CARBON DIOXIDE OR OTHER KINDS OF CONVENTIONAL AIR POLLUTION.

Steve says WELL, LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT ANOTHER SECTOR. I DON'T THINK TOMORROW EVERYBODY IN THIS WORLD IS GOING TO BECOME A VEGETARIAN, BUT IF MORE OF US DID, WHAT IMPACT WOULD THAT HAVE?

Leah says YEAH. SO THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF FOCUS RIGHT NOW ON THE FACT THAT THERE ARE BIG COVID OUTBREAKS WITHIN MEAT-PACKING AREAS, AND OF COURSE THIS ORIGINAL VIRUS IS BELIEVED TO COME FROM A PLACE IN CHINA WHERE ANIMALS ARE BEING USED, FOR EXAMPLE, FOR FOOD AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. AND SO, YEAH, THERE ARE BIG QUESTIONS ABOUT THE WAY THAT OUR MEAT SYSTEM OPERATES AND HOW IT COULD BE MORE SUSTAINABLE. I THINK, YOU KNOW, IF PEOPLE REALLY WANT CHANGES, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL CHANGES THAT THEY MAKE, IT'S ALSO ABOUT GOVERNMENT CHANGES. SO WHAT KINDS OF POLICIES DO WE NEED TO HAVE IN PLACE FOR OUR MEAT SUPPLY CHAIN TO MAKE SURE THAT WORKERS, FOR EXAMPLE, ARE PROTECTED AND ARE NOT CONTRACTING CORONAVIRUS JUST BY GOING INTO WORK. THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF CLUSTERS, BOTH ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND EVEN IN CANADA, OF OUTBREAKS AT THESE MEAT-PACKING FACILITIES. SO I THINK WE HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW WE CAN MAKE OUR FOOD SYSTEM MORE ETHICAL FOR EVERYBODY.

Steve says I THINK, IF MEMORY SERVES, THE CARGILL PLANT IN ALBERTA HAD TO BE SHUT DOWN ENTIRELY. GO AHEAD AND ANSWER YOUR QUESTION: HOW WOULD WE HAVE TO TRANSFORM THINGS IN ORDER FOR IT TO BE SAFER AND MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE AFTERWARDS?

Leah says YEAH. SO I THINK THAT IN GENERAL THERE'S A LOT OF FOCUS ON MAKING OUR AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY. THE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM DOES CONTRIBUTE CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS AND OTHER KINDS OF POLLUTION TO OUR ENVIRONMENT. AND SO WE PROBABLY NEED MORE GOVERNMENTxD REGULATION TO BE PUTTING RULES ON THESE SYSTEMS, BECAUSE WE HAVE HAD A GROWTH IN INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE IN THE PAST 50 YEARS, AND THAT IS ASSOCIATED WITH A LOT MORE POLLUTION AND A LOT MORE CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS. SO I THINK THAT WE SHOULD BE MAKING CHANGES TO OUR FOOD SYSTEM TO HELP ADDRESS SOME OF THESE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS.

Steve says NOW, WE HAVE HEARD SOME STORIES ABOUT THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR ABOUT, FOR EXAMPLE, FARMERS DECIDING NOT TO PLANT CROPS ON A PART OF THEIR FIELD SINCE THEY'RE NOT SURE THAT THEY CAN GET THEM PROCESSED AND THEN TO MARKET ANYWAY. DOES THAT HELP THE PLANET?

Leah says YEAH. SO THERE'S BEEN A FOCUS IN RECENT YEARS ON THE FACT THAT FARMERS CAN REALLY BE PART OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTION. AND THAT'S THROUGH PRACTICES I CAN LOO NO-TILL AGRICULTURE. THE FACT IS THAT WHEN PLANTS GROW, RIGHT, THAT WOULD INCLUDE CROPS, THEY CREATE ROOTS. AND THOSE ROOTS HAVE CARBON IN THEM. AND IF YOU REMOVE THE PLANTS AND LEAVE THOSE ROOTS IN THE GROUND AND THEN YOU DO NOT TILL THE EARTH, MEANING TURN IT UP YEAR OVER YEAR, THEN THEORETICALLY SOME CARBON CAN STAY IN THE SOIL AND THAT CAN HELP WITH THE BIG CARBON PROBLEM WE HAVE. BECAUSE RIGHT NOW, ACTUALLY, WE HAVE CARBON LEVELS IN THE ATMOSPHERE THAT WE HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE. THERE WAS A NEW RECORD SET, I BELIEVE, LAST WEEK. SO WE REALLY NEED TO BE THINKING ABOUT WAYS THAT WE CAN DRAW DOWN CARBON FROM THE ATMOSPHERE BACK INTO THE SOIL. AND ONE OPTION IS FOR FARMERS TO BECOME A PARTNER IN THAT TO DO NO-TILL AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES.

Steve says OKAY. WELL, IF YOU'VE GOT A NO-TILL AGRICULTURAL PRACTICE, HOW CAN YOU MAKE ANY MONEY?

Leah says YEAH. I THINK EVEN MORE THAN THAT, THE PROBLEM IS YOU NEED CARBON TO BE STORED IN THE EARTH FOR VERY LONG PERIODS OF TIME. WHEN WE TALK ABOUT FOSSIL FUELS, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT TAKING A GEOLOGICAL CARBON STORAGE, RIGHT? THESE ARE THINGS FROM HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO THAT WE'RE TAKING UP FROM THE GROUND AND WE'RE PUTTING INTO OUR AIR AND OUR OCEANS AND OUR LAND. AND SO IF ALL WE DO IS START BACK IN KIND OF THE TOPSOIL OF THE EARTH THAT ISN'T PUTTING IT DOWN ALL THE WAY UNDERGROUND. SO I THINK THERE ARE LIMITS TO WHICH THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR CAN BE PARTNERS IN THIS. BUT THE FACT IS, TO TACKLE THE CLIMATE CRISIS, ALL SECTORS OF OUR ECONOMY NEED TO BE MAKING CHANGES, AND THERE REALLY ISN'T TIME TO DELAY ANY LONGER.

Steve says LEAH, LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT OUR DECISION-MAKERS IN GENERAL. YOU KNOW, FOR MAYBE THE MOST DRAMATIC TIME I CAN EVER RECALL, THEY ARE LISTENING TO SCIENTISTS RIGHT NOW AND THEY ARE MAKING DECISIONS ESSENTIALLY THE SCIENTISTS ARE TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO AND THEY'RE DOING IT. OF COURSE, IT RELATES TO HEALTH AND THE PANDEMIC. I WONDER WHETHER YOU THINK THIS OPENS THE DOOR TO THE POTENTIAL OF DECISION-MAKERS AGAIN LISTENING TO THE SCIENTISTS AS IT RELATES TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND MAYBE INSTEAD OF DRAGGING HEELS, THEY ACTUALLY GO OUT AND GET IT DONE?

Leah says YEAH, THAT'S A GREAT POINT, STEVE. YOU KNOW, OUR SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR MANY DECADES NOW, WELL OVER 30 YEARS, THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS A CRISIS THAT IS ON OUR DOORSTEP. WE'VE ALREADY WARMED THE PLANET BY 1 degree CELSIUS AND THOSE IMPACTS ARE ALREADY BEING FELT ACROSS CANADA, ACROSS THE UNITED STATES, ACROSS THE WORLD. WE'RE HAVING MORE INTENSE STORMS, DROUGHT, HEAT WAVES. THESE ARE AFFECTING ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE. AND SO WE DO NEED OUR GOVERNMENTS TO START STEPPING UP. AND THERE HAVE BEEN ALL THESE REALLY INTERESTING STUDIES THAT ARE ESTIMATING HOW MUCH OUR CARBON EMISSIONS ARE FALLING AS A RESULT OF THIS PANDEMIC. THE BEST ESTIMATE, INCLUDING A PAPER THAT JUST CAME OUT YESTERDAY, IS ABOUT 7 TO 8 PERCENT. BUT WHAT DECISION MAKERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT TO LIMIT WARMING TO 1.5 degrees CELSIUS, WHAT WE NEED TO DO BY 2030 IS ACTUALLY CUT OUR EMISSIONS BY ABOUT 8 percent EVERY SINGLE YEAR. SO OUR DECISION-MAKERS NEED TO RECOGNIZE THE SCALE OF THIS CRISIS. AND ALL THE ECONOMIC POLICIES THAT WE WILL BE ROLLING OUT TO DEAL WITH UNEMPLOYMENT AND A RECESSION, ALL THOSE POLICIES NEED TO BE DIRECTED TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE BECAUSE THERE IS NO MORE TIME TO WASTE. WE NEED OUR GOVERNMENTS TO BE DRIVING THIS EMISSION REDUCTIONS EVERY YEAR.

Steve says WE KNOW THE SKIES ARE CLEANER RIGHT NOW. BUT... I MEAN, WE'RE TWO MONTHS INTO THIS THING SO IT MAY BE TOO EARLY TO TELL. CAN YOU TELL WHAT PERCENTAGE DECLINE IN POLLUTION THERE IS RIGHT NOW AS A RESULT OF THIS PANDEMIC?

Leah says YEAH. SO WHEN IT COMES TO CARBON DIOXIDE POLLUTION, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN WORKING ON, AND THEY BELIEVE THAT IT'S GOING TO BE AROUND AN 8 percent DECLINE GLOBALLY IN CARBON DIOXIDE POLLUTION AROUND THE WORLD. AND THAT'S A REALLY BIG DROP. THAT'S THE BIGGEST DROP IN CARBON DIOXIDE THAT WE HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. BUT UNFORTUNATELY IT'S LIKELY TO BE TEMPORARY, BECAUSE DURING THE RECESSION, WE SAW A DROP IN CARBON DIOXIDE AND THEN WE SAW A REALLY BIG REBOUND. SO WHAT WE NEED IS OUR GOVERNMENTS TO HELP US LOCK IN THOSE REDUCTIONS, BECAUSE AS I MENTIONED, WE NEED A REDUCTION AT ABOUT THAT SCALE EVERY SINGLE YEAR TO LIMIT WARMING TO 1.5 degrees CELSIUS.

Steve says AND WE CERTAINLY... WE DON'T WANT TO CHEER FOR A NEW PANDEMIC EVERY YEAR TO GET US TO THAT NUMBER SO WE HAVE TO FIGURE SOMETHING ELSE OUT, RIGHT?

Leah says EXACTLY. NO, THE CORONAVIRUS IS NOT REALLY A SILVER LINING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE OR FOR AIR POLLUTION. THOSE ARE SOME SIDE EFFECTS TO WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING. BUT REALLY, WE DON'T NEED ALL THE SACRIFICING AT THE SCALE WE ARE IN ORDER TO BE TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS. IN FACT, IF OUR GOVERNMENT WAS IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT AND WE'RE SETTING POLICIES TO HELP US DEPLOY CLEAN TECHNOLOGY THAT WE ALREADY HAVE, THAT'S LIKE SOLAR PANELS AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND SUPPORTING THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR FOR THINGS LIKE THE NO-TILL FARMING THAT WE TALKED ABOUT, IF OUR GOVERNMENTS WERE DOING THAT, THEN WE COULD BE SEEING REDUCTIONS AND ALL OF US COULD BE LIVING NORMAL LIVES. SO ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOT ABOUT SACRIFICE. IT'S ACTUALLY ABOUT ECONOMIC POLICY.

Steve says YEAH, BUT I DO WANT TO GAUGE YOUR LEVEL OF EITHER OPTIMISM OR PESSIMISM RIGHT NOW. THERE'S A SENSE THAT, YOU KNOW, WHEN THE HOUSE WAS ON FIRE, BOTH YOUR NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, OUR NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, HAD TO RUSH PROGRAMS OUT THERE, EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFITS, SUBSIDIES FOR BUSINESS, RENT BACKSTOPS, WAGE BACKSTOPS. YOU KNOW, THEY GOT THOSE THINGS OUT IN RELATIVELY FAST ORDER IN ORDER TO HELP PUT OUT THE FIRE. BUT I'VE GOT TO ASK YOU THIS: ONCE THE FIRE'S OUT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE TEND TO HAVE VERY SHORT MEMORIES ON THESE THINGS, AND I WONDER WHETHER YOU'RE CONCERNED AT ALL THAT GOVERNMENT WILL JUST GO BACK TO BUSINESS AS NORMAL AS OPPOSED TO USING THIS AS A REAL, YOU KNOW, MOMENT IN HISTORY TO CHANGE THE WAY WE DO THINGS? WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Leah says THAT'S A GREAT POINT, STEVE. THERE WAS A REALLY EXCELLENT REPORT THAT LOOKED AT ALL THE G-20 NATIONS, AND WHAT THEY'RE DOING DURING THIS DIFFICULT MOMENT. UNFORTUNATELY ONLY 4 percent OF THE POLICIES OF THE G-20 COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CANADA, ARE GREEN. ONLY 4 percent. AND IN FACT JUST AS MANY POLICIES ARE PROPPING UP THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY AND ARE DIRTY, 4 percent. SO YOU'RE RIGHT. A LOT OF GOVERNMENTS ARE NOT TAKING THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY. I WILL SAY, HOWEVER, THAT THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT HAS DONE ONE REALLY EXCELLENT THING, WHICH IS RATHER THAN CONTINUING TO SUBSIDIZE THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY IN THE WESTERN PROVINCES, ONE THING THAT THEY'VE DONE IS THEY'VE PUT 1.7 BILLION dollars TOWARDS CLEANING UP WELLS THAT HAVE BEEN ABANDONED FROM A LOT OF HISTORIC FOSSIL FUEL EXTRACTION IN PLACES LIKE ALBERTA. AND SO I THINK THAT THAT IS A WAY THAT WE CAN THINK ABOUT HOW WE REBOOT OUR ECONOMY. HOW DO WE GET CANADIANS BACK TO WORK, BUT DO IT IN A CLEAN WAY. AND WE REALLY ALL NEED TO BE DEMANDING THAT GOVERNMENTS AROUND THE WORLD, INCLUDING IN CANADA, MAKE GREEN SPENDING AND GREEN STIMULUS THE TOP PRIORITY.

Steve says YOU SAY IT'S UP TO GOVERNMENTS TO DO THAT, AND DO I TAKE IT FROM THAT THAT YOU THINK THEY HAVE THE LEAD ROLE TO PLAY AS OPPOSED TO INDIVIDUALS AND HOW WE MIGHT LIVE OUR DAILY LIVES DIFFERENTLY?

Leah says ABSOLUTELY. YOU KNOW, I WAS AN UNDERGRADUATE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO AND I STUDIED PSYCHOLOGY AT THAT TIME, AND I RAN A PROGRAM WHERE WE TRIED TO GET PEOPLE TO SAVE ENERGY, TO LIVE IN A MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY WAY. AND AFTER RUNNING THAT PROGRAM FOR SEVERAL YEARS, WHAT I TOOK AWAY WAS THAT THAT'S JUST NOT A BIG ENOUGH LEVER. WE AS INDIVIDUALS DON'T HAVE ENOUGH POWER TO REALLY CHANGE THE SOCIETY. ALL OF US ARE LIVING IN A CARBON INTENSIVE SOCIETY. WE WERE BORN INTO THAT. AND OUR GOAL IS TO NOT DIE IN A CARBON INTENSIVE SOCIETY. AND THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS TO HAVE GOVERNMENTS SET POLICY SO THAT ALL OF US CAN MAKE BETTER CHOICES, SO THAT IT'S EASIER TO BUY AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE, LET'S SAY, FOR EXAMPLE.

Steve says YOU KNOW, I REALLY DON'T WANT TO COME OFF LIKE A KILLJOY HERE, BUT YOU'LL APPRECIATE I DO HAVE TO ASK THESE UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, WE DO SEE SOME CITIES AROUND THE WORLD ARE NOW NOTICING THE FACT THAT THERE'S CONSIDERABLY LESS TRAFFIC ON THE ROADS AND THEY'RE THINKING, WELL, WE CAN EXPAND THE SIDEWALKS OR WE CAN MAKE, YOU KNOW, BUSY CITY STREETS, GIVEN THE LACK OF TRAFFIC, MORE FRIENDLY FOR PEOPLE. BUT ONE GETS THE SENSE THAT AS SOON AS THIS PANDEMIC IS IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR, YOU KNOW, WATER FINDS ITS LEVEL. THINGS ARE GOING TO GO BACK TO, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, NORMAL. HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT THAT?

Leah says WELL, ACTUALLY, THERE'S SOME REALLY GOOD NEWS ABOUT THAT, STEVE. IN BERLIN, FOR EXAMPLE, IT'S REALLY DIFFICULT TO GET A NEW BIKE LANE BUILT. AND WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING IS THINGS THAT WOULD NORMALLY TAKE 10 YEARS TO DECIDE ON ARE HAPPENING IN A MATTER OF DAYS. AND THE GOVERNMENT THERE IS MAKING IT CLEAR THAT THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP THOSE BIKE LANES AFTER THE PANDEMIC. THE SAME IS HAPPENING IN ITALY AND IN GREECE. A LOT OF GOVERNMENTS ARE SAYING, HEY, LET'S RESHAPE OUR CITIES A LITTLE BIT AND PUT IN MORE BIKE LANES AND PEDESTRIAN AREAS. YOU KNOW, AS A FORMER CYCLIST IN TORONTO, I CAN IMAGINE THAT THAT WOULD BE REALLY FANTASTIC TO BE HAVING MORE BIKE LANES BUILT IN THE CITY AND TO HAVE MORE PROTECTED SPACE. AND A LOT OF THE REASONS WHY PEOPLE DON'T BIKE, AGAIN, IS NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE BAD PEOPLE OR THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, IT'S BECAUSE THEY DON'T FEEL SAFE ON THE ROADS. SO THAT'S WHY WE NEED INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE SO THAT PEOPLE CAN FEEL SAFE BIKING ALONGSIDE CARS, AND WE NEED THAT INFRASTRUCTURE TO BE PERMANENT. SO AT LEAST IN A FEW PLACES WE'RE SEEING GOVERNMENTS MAKE THAT INFRASTRUCTURE PERMANENT.

Steve says GOTCHA. LEAH, I'VE GOT ABOUT 30 SECONDS LEFT HERE. LET ME ASK YOU ONE LAST QUESTION, WHICH IS, AGAIN, WE HAVE SEEN SUCH A DRAMATIC AND FAST RESPONSE TO THIS PANDEMIC FROM GOVERNMENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM THE WORST RAVAGES OF IT, AND YET, YOU KNOW, YEAR AFTER YEAR, DECADE AFTER DECADE, ON THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE, SO SLOW. SLOW SLUGGISH. NOT FAST ENOUGH. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SORT OF PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND THAT DECISION-MAKING?

Leah says YEAH. SO I ACTUALLY JUST FINISHED A BOOK CALLED "SHORT-CIRCUITING POLICY," WHICH LOOKS AT WHY WE'RE BEHIND ON ADDRESSING THE CLIMATE CRISIS. AND IT ISN'T ABOUT WHAT INDIVIDUALS ARE DOING. PEOPLE DON'T NEED TO FEEL GUILTY. THEY NEED TO BE LOOKING TOWARDS INSTITUTIONS IN SOCIETY AND WHY THEY'RE CONTINUING TO PROP UP POLLUTION. SO ELECTRIC UTILITIES, FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES, AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOVERNMENT ARE REALLY THE KEY REASONS WHY WE ARE SO SLOW IN TERMS OF TAKING ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS. SO WE NEED OUR DECISION-MAKERS TO BE LISTENING LESS TO FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES AND MORE TO EVERYDAY PEOPLE. BECAUSE I'VE DONE RESEARCH MYSELF THAT SHOWS THAT CANADIANS ARE REALLY WORRIED ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS AND WE NEED OUR GOVERNMENTS TO BE LISTENING TO EVERYDAY PEOPLE AND NOT TO POLLUTING INDUSTRIES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Liane Kotler, @LianeKotler."

Steve says LEAH STOKES FROM UC SANTA BARBARA, WE'RE GRATEFUL YOU COULD SPARE TIME FOR US TONIGHT.

Leah says I'VE LISTENED TO SHOW FOR A LONG TIME AND WATCHED IT SO IT'S WONDERFUL TO BE WITH YOU TODAY.

Steve says THAT'S KIND OF YOU TO SAY. ALL GOOD WISHES.

Leah says YOU TOO. BYE.

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