Pressure is mounting on Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government to deliver on its promise of climate action, with 27 youth protesters briefly occupying the lobby of the House of Commons earlier this week and a public interest law firm campaigning for a new climate accountability law.
You can view and sign West Coast Environmental Law’s email to party leaders here.
In Ottawa Monday morning, the 27 Our Time protesters were arrested at the House of Commons, minutes after they arrived to deliver mandate letters calling on the 338 Members of Parliament to make a Canadian green new deal their first priority. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he heard loud and clear the message Canadians sent in the federal election for him to be bolder about climate change action,” The Canadian Press reports, in a dispatch picked up by National Observer. “Now young Canadians want him to prove it.”
Our Time Campaign Manager Amara Possian “said in a recent blog post that the first 100 days of a new government are a critical time as the government lays out its plans and priorities,” CP adds. “With the Liberals held to a minority, they will need support from other parties to pass legislation and stay in power, which many environment groups see as leverage to push the Liberals to do more on climate change.”
Greenpeace Canada set out to build that leverage last week, with “a 48-hour-long program to drive thousands of emails, phone calls, and social media messages to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demanding quick action to ramp up climate policies,” the news agency adds. “This week, it’s Our Time putting on the pressure.”
A spokesperson for Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna told CP the government recognizes the need for action. “Young people are pushing their governments for a more sustainable future,” press secretary Sabrina Kim. “We hear them, and all of the Canadians who sent a clear message this election that tackling climate change is a clear priority that they want this Parliament to work on.”
Clean Energy Canada Policy Director Dan Woynillowicz said he expects the Liberals to move quickly on job transition legislation for fossil industry workers, as well as five-year emission reduction targets with a commitment to public progress reports. And a climate accountability law is the focus of this week’s campaign from West Coast Environmental Law.
“A growing number of countries around the world have laws that put in place checks and balances to ensure that current and future governments will meet their climate goals,” WCEL explains. “The United Kingdom’s Climate Change Act 2008, for example, has seen the country’s greenhouse gas emissions drop to their lowest level since the 1890s. It requires governments to work with an arm’s length expert committee to set and implement three five-year ‘carbon budgets’ describing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be emitted over the next 15 years if the country is to meet its long-term climate goals.”
Along with a “growing number of environmental organizations,” WCEL is now calling on Ottawa to deliver a framework that enshrines climate accountability in law, sets ambitious, rolling five-year GHG reduction goals, legislates a climate change committee with a mandate to assess the government’s progress toward those goals, and requires Ottawa to release the committee’s reports and respond to them.
“It was called ‘Canada’s climate election,’ and as the dust settles we can celebrate that 63% of votes cast were in favour of parties that made strong climate promises,” WCEL writes. “However, Canada has an unfortunate history of making strong climate promises, setting ambitious targets, and then not delivering. We need strong laws that make sure that this cannot be allowed to happen again.”