At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015, Canada and 193 other nations endorsed the goal of “holding the increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” These goals have become known as the ‘Paris Agreement’. Canada’s blueprint for meeting these targets is outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF). Even if Canada fulfils the PCF, the 2030 emissions target of 513 megatonnes (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent will be missed.
Questions for candidates:
- What will your party do to ensure that Canada meets its current 2030 emissions reduction targets?
- Will you commit to ending all fossil fuel subsidies and to speaking out against development projects such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline?
- Will you commit to re-training fossil fuel workers and to ensuring that green energy education is available for all?
- Will you commit to annually increasing the carbon price from this year to 2030 to help ensure that Canada meets the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and that warming does not go beyond 1.5°C.?
Canada is on track to miss its carbon emissions reduction target of 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, a target that is weak to begin with. According to the think-tank Climate Action Tracker, Canada’s emissions reduction target should be 60 percent below 2005 levels for Canada to do its fair share to stabilize a global temperature rise at 1.5°C as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
At the North American Leaders Summit in June 2016, the federal government made joint commitments with the United States and Mexico to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. These subsidies need to be cut more rapidly to meet the deadline, and the impact of fossil fuel subsidies needs to be reconciled with Canada’s commitment to tackle climate change and limit global warming to 1.5°C. The federal government will need to stop investing in an energy source with no future. Projects such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion go directly against this commitment and the 2015 Paris Agreement targets.
As our economy shifts from fossil fuels to clean energy alternatives, we need to ensure that workers can transition as well. That means investing in re-training opportunities and ensuring that those who are traditionally excluded from well-paying and stable employment are included in the emerging economy. Organizations such as Iron & Earth are leading the way.
Carbon pricing is at the centre of the PCF. A national carbon pricing scheme came into effect in April 2018 for provinces and territories that do not meet the federal regulatory standards (New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan). In these provinces, 70 percent of households will get more in rebate payments than they pay into the carbon pricing program. The excess emissions charged for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions exceeding the limit is set at $20 per ton for 2019. The price will rise by $10 every year, reaching $50 per ton in 2022.
However, to meet the PCF targets, the annually rising fee on carbon must extend beyond 2022 to 2030. The Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that in addition to the set $50 per tonne, households would need to pay another $102 per tonne by 2030 to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement goals.
Environmental racism is a type of systematic discrimination that links race and socio-economic status with increased environmental risk. Ecological justice cannot be separated from race in Canada; exposure to hazardous waste and environmental pollution, and prejudiced zoning decisions directly impact quality of life and the health of marginalized communities in this country.
Questions for candidates:
- Will you commit to continuing and increasing federal investment in First Nations communities’ access to safe drinking water?
- Will you commit to supporting a federal Environmental Bill of Rights as outlined in Bill C-438?
Background: Water is a human right. However, marginalized – especially Indigenous – communities in Canada are too often deprived of access to clean drinking water. The Canadian government is trying to change this through a plan to eliminate all drinking advisories that are longer than 12 months by March 2021; however, progress is not linear. Even when Indigenous communities end their long-term water advisories, clean water is not guaranteed. In fact, 32 of the 79 long-term advisories that were lifted have been reinstated. The 2019 federal budget responded to these concerns with an investment of $739 million over five years, in addition to the previously allocated $2 billion to support efforts to end long-term advisories. While this new cash infusion is welcome, it remains to be seen if it will lead to sustained improvements in water management on reserves.
Canada’s Environmental Protection Act (1999) aims to “contribute to sustainable development through pollution prevention and to protect the environment, human life and health from the risks associated with toxic substances.” Equal opportunity for protection needs to be enshrined on a federal level.
Various provinces have regulations (including environmental bills of rights) to ensure protections, but marginalized communities still slip through the cracks. Bill C-438, essentially a federal Environmental Bill of Rights, ensures that the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment is included in the Canadian Bill of Rights, while allowing more public engagement with the federal government. An Environmental Bill of Rights would give traditionally excluded communities (Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, Canadians of colour) a chance to access information and the ability to shape their local environmental conditions. Indigenous communities especially have struggled to obtain the necessary information to make informed health decisions due to jurisdictional confusion between provincial and federal governments. The Mikisew Cree had to go to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to get information on the impacts of the Site C dam, the Bennett dam, and the oils sands operations on the Peace-Athabasca Delta – a world heritage site. A federally implemented Environmental Bill of Rights would streamline the right to information.
For additional resources, visit KAIROS’ Climate Action Month.