Faster carbon reductions, an end to fossil subsidies, more support for international emission reductions, and a commitment to “leave no community, group, or worker behind” are the cornerstones of the comprehensive, accountable climate plan Canada will need after this year’s federal election, Climate Action Network-Canada (CAN-Rac) asserts in a policy paper released earlier this week.
With the election scarcely four months away, and national parties publishing their climate platforms, the country “Canada needs do much more to address the climate crisis,” CAN-Rac states. While the country “now has some solid foundations laid for climate policies, regulations, and investments,” the organization adds, “the scale of ambition remains woefully inadequate.”
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The network’s dilemma is that, while the current government’s pan-Canadian climate plan is “unprecedented” in national policy, it still falls far short of what’s needed. “According to the latest assessment from the federal government, there is still a gap of 79 million tonnes of GHGs between our 2030 target emissions and the levels Canada is on track to achieve,” the report states. “Even more troubling, we know that our current target is nowhere near what it would take to hold global warming to the 1.5°C limit enshrined in our Paris commitment,” after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected warming of 2.6 to 4.0°C based on countries’ Paris promises to date.
The gap between Canada’s climate performance and its fair share of the international burden looms larger still, when it’s fair to expect more from wealthier countries that bear more historical responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet.
“Despite our country’s small population, Canada has ranked among the top 10 global carbon polluters for most of the last century,” CAN-Rac notes. “When it comes to per capita emissions, the picture gets even more grim: Canadians emit more per person than almost any other country, including all European nations and Russia (and that’s including several other large, cold countries). Oil and gas operations are the largest and fastest-growing source of carbon pollution in the country, with transportation emissions coming a close second in terms of size. Meanwhile, Canada is one of the richest nations on the planet, with one of the lowest-emitting electricity grids.”
All of which prompted CAN-Rac to call for an updated Canadian climate plan that includes:
• A comprehensive, effective, accountable plan to “dramatically reduce Canada’s carbon pollution to safe levels and meet our national target for 2030”;
• More ambitious, legislated carbon reduction targets, including interim targets for 2025;
• Phasing out fossil subsidies, as a first step in a “real conversation about the future of Canada’s oil and gas sector in the age of the climate crisis”;
• “Real assistance” to fossil communities affected by the decline of the resource they depend on, including better consultation with Indigenous communities;
• C$4 billion in international climate finance between 2020 and 2025 to support emission reductions in other countries;
• A national conversation on climate change adaptation and resilience;
• A less polarized national dialogue on the climate crisis “that connects peoples’ realities with science and equity-based facts.”
The paper calls on all Canadian politicians and parties to “foster a candid national discussion on the impacts of acting, and not acting, on climate change. This conversation must be grounded in science, Indigenous and community knowledge, and a deep understanding of equity. Such a discussion has the potential to be a catalyst for building inclusive, bold, and creative policy that ensures we not only reach our existing 2030 commitments, but go well beyond them.”
While getting that done “is bound to be a challenge,” CAN-Rac adds, “it’s critical that we move forward and do our fair share in the global fight against climate change—to take advantage of the opportunities that climate action presents and to uphold our responsibility to future generations.”