Tomorrow’s First Ministers’ meeting in Vancouver is “an early test of the seriousness of Canada’s leaders when it comes to climate promises made in Paris,” three of Canada’s leading climate and energy organizations assert in an op-ed published Monday in the Vancouver Sun and the Ottawa Citizen.
While provincial governments have made good progress on climate in recent years, “it’s time to turn warm words and strong commitments in the Paris Agreement into real action in Canada,” write Environmental Defence’s Tim Gray, the Pembina Institute’s Ed Whittingham, and Équiterre’s Sidney Ribaux. It’s critical for the federal government to harness the momentum to date, they add, because “it will take much stronger action for Canada to decarbonize by mid-century and do our part in striving to limit global warming to 1.5°C.”
The three organizations suggest five key issues for the federal government to keep in mind, beginning with the need for a “comprehensive toolkit” of climate policy actions. “All levels of government must enact regulations to increase clean energy use and improve the energy efficiency of Canadian buildings, vehicles, and equipment,” they write. “Government spending on the things we need—like public transit, smart power grids, and electric vehicle infrastructure—will be required. At a time that Canada is trying to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, all governments should eliminate fossil fuel subsidy programs and quickly phase out coal-fired electricity.”
Gray, Whittingham, and Ribaux say carbon pricing is one part of the solution, and point to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as a tool for regulating greenhouse gas emissions already identified as toxic under that legislation. They also call for a level playing field across all sectors of the economy, and all provinces. “National unity has been discussed a lot in the current climate change debate but nothing would jeopardize it more than grandfathering large sources of carbon emissions without a plan to achieve overall needed reductions.”
“The good news,” they write, “is that, if done right, these measures will create jobs, stimulate innovation, and strengthen Canada’s economy.”
But timing is crucial. “Canada must look for measures that can be adopted immediately, while remembering that the longer-term goal is decarbonization,” the three organizations stress. “As the prime minister and premiers move forward on a pan-Canadian approach to climate change, they must work to close the gap on 2020, establish an ambitious 2025 mark, and strengthen Canada’s 2050 target to reflect promises made in Paris.”