Climate Action Network Sets PM’s Clock

CUSJ is a member of the Climate Action Network and signed on to this long but informative letter detailing what is needed in a government oriented to acting on the climate emergency.

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Congratulations on your re-election to lead Canada’s government at this pivotal time in history. The next few years are crucial in responding to the climate emergency. The crisis requires transcending partisan lines for the benefit of all Canadians.

Canada is in the midst of transformative change. Our foundational systems are being challenged to respond and adapt to the climate crisis, economic changes driven by automation and global competitiveness, and social and health issues like immigration, housing, poverty alleviation, addiction and harm-reduction. Canadians feel these pressures as daily influences in their lives, and in the most Canadian of ways, we want to help our friends, families, and neighbours to prosper. This generosity of spirit must come to life with this government, through investment in cross-partisan, cross-sectoral cooperation to meet today’s complex, interlocking social, economic, and environmental challenges. Together we can build a stronger, kinder, more resilient Canada.

The next decade must necessarily be one of global transformation toward governance and economic systems that actually work for people and the planet. The next term of government will define Canada’s contribution to this era. We ask you to demonstrate the Government of Canada’s commitment to navigating transformation through cooperation, transparency, accountability, and evidence-based decision-making. We ask that you commit to collaboration with all Parliamentary colleagues and the public service, along with respectful and constructive engagement with Canadian civil society, business, labour, the public and private sector, charities and not-for-profits. Together we can build public policy that serves all Canadians and delivers necessary climate ambition.We at Climate Action Network Canada, along with our members, are counting on the Government of Canada, under your leadership, to act immediately on five key priorities:

We at the Climate Action Network, along with our members, are counting on the Government of Canada, under your leadership, to act immediately on five key priorities:

1. Listen to scientists. Set science-backed climate targets and limit warming to 1.5°C.

2. Create mechanisms to keep government accountable and on track to meet our climate commitments.

3. Ensure a just transition for workers by collaborating with communities.

Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada

4. Redirect investment away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy: eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, stop expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

5. Fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Respect free, prior and informed consent.

We look forward to seeing elements of these priorities reflected across a number of Ministerial Mandate letters. As these challenges are interconnected, they can not be dealt with by any Minister or Department in isolation.

1. Science-backed climate targets that limit warming to 1.5°C this century

Relevant to the Mandate Letters of the following Ministers or their equivalent:

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Minister of Finance

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Minister of Health

Minister of Heritage

Minister of Indigenous Services

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic

Development

Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern

Affairs and Internal Trade

Minister of International Development

Minister of International Trade Diversification

Minister of Natural Resources

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency

Preparedness

Minister of Rural Economic Development

Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Minister of Transport

Minister for Women and Gender Equality

Essential Elements:

  • Ratchet up Canada’s Paris goal to reduce domestic emissions by at least 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, in line with the science of the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Immediately launch process to revise Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement so that it’s ready for submission to COP26 in 2020.
  • Legislate a commitment to reducing emissions to net-zero before 2050.
  • Legislate science and equity-based 5-year milestone emissions budgets or reduction targets starting from 2025 to define Canada’s path to net-zero emissions before 2050.
  • Legislate the requirement for government to develop and implement a plan on how to achieve the forthcoming carbon budgets/reduction targets within a set time after that budget/target is legislated. These plans must be tabled before Parliament.
  • Fully implement and build on the policy and regulatory measures laid out in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth (PCF) to mitigate emissions, adapt to climate change, and invest in clean growth.
  • Increase international climate financing to at least C$4 billion/year, of which at least 50 percent should be channelled towards adaptation, along the trajectory of Canada’s fair share contribution of the US$100billion/year collective finance goal of developed countries.
  • Step up Canada’s international cooperation on mitigation so our total international impact reaches a level equivalent to an additional 80% of Canada’s 2005 emissions.
  • Align international trade negotiations with the Paris Agreement and enforcement of domestic environmental laws.

Context:

We know that Canada’s current Paris Agreement emissions reduction goal (a 30% reduction in emissions over 2005 levels by 2030) and associated NDC is highly insufficient as a fair-share effort from Canada toward the global target of limiting warming to 1.5°C this century. The IPCC tells us we need to cut global emissions at least in half and Canada needs to deliver our fair share of that global effort.

Despite our country’s small population, Canada has ranked among the top 10 global carbon polluters for most of the last century. Canadians emit more per person than almost any other country, including all European nations and Russia. Oil and gas operations are the largest and fastest growing source of carbon pollution in the country, followed by transportation emissions. Meanwhile, Canada is one of the richest nations on the planet with one of the lowest-emitting electricity grids.

The world’s scientists and leading policy experts have told us the coming decade is critically important for turning the tide on the climate emergency. We know that countries with more historical responsibility for contributing to the climate crisis by emitting carbon into the atmosphere, and that have more wealth to tackle the problem, should do more. Canada falls into both categories.

In your recent election campaign, you committed to Canada achieving net zero emissions by 2050. On the pathway to reaching this midcentury target, Climate Action Network’s latest calculations indicate that for us to do our fair share, Canada’s target would have to at least double in ambition to reduce GHGs at least 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, while ramping up our international climate finance. To get there, we require additional incremental milestone targets backed by the force of law, and we expect your government to make this a top priority early in this new mandate. We need robust implementation of the policies currently laid out in the PCF and additional policies that take us further.

Furthermore, even if it adopts the most stringent domestic measures, Canada will likely fall short of its fair contribution, which is a total of 140% of our 2005 emissions levels. One way to acknowledge that gap is to fund emission-reducing and adaptation measures in other countries, to the tune of at least C$4 billion/year (our fair share of funding already committed under the UNFCCC). In addition, Canada needs to enter additional emissions-reducing cooperation with developing countries, so that the total 2005 emissions, which, combined with at least 60% domestic reductions would bring our total impact of Canada’s financing and cooperation internationally reaches a total equivalent of 80% of our contribution in line with our 140% fair share of the global effort required for 1.5°°C.

Relevant commitments from the Liberal Party of Canada Platform:

• achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

• continue to lead with a price on pollution and a plan to help reduce emissions

• build on national climate plan with new measures to help move Canada toward a net-zero emissions future, including strengthening existing rules to cut emissions from Canada’s biggest polluters, including oil and gas.

• plant two billion trees to clean our air and protect our communities

• invest $3 billion to better conserve and restore forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, wetlands, and coastal areas.

• help retrofit 1.5 million homes to help Canadians make their homes more energy efficient

• give interested homeowners and landlords a free energy audit

• help homeowners and landlords pay for retrofits by giving them an interest-free loan of up to $40,000

• help people buy newly built homes that are certified zero-emissions by giving them a Net Zero Homes Grant of up to $5,000

• make Energy Star certification mandatory for all new home appliances starting in 2022

• move forward with a national competition to create four $100-million long-term funds to help attract private capital that can be used for deep retrofits of large buildings, such as office towers

• install up to 5,000 charging stations along the Trans Canada Highway and other major road networks, and in Canada’s urban and rural areas

• provide a 10 per cent rebate on a used zero-emission vehicle up to a maximum value of $2,000

• require that new federal investments in public transit are used to support zero-emission buses and rail

• an additional $3 billion more per year in stable, predictable funding for our cities’ transit needs, on top systems starting in 2023, and work with municipalities to address any exceptional circumstances of transfers through the federal Gas Tax Fund

• move forward with a new fund to help more school boards and municipalities purchase 5,000 zero emissions school and transit buses over the next five years

• explore measures to support the conversion of business fleets, such as those used by taxi and courier companies, and industrial vehicles, like mining trucks

• make Canada’s ports some of the world’s cleanest in the world: convert ships from heavy oil and diesel, such as the ferries serving Canada’s coastal communities

• protect 25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025

• reduce plastic pollution, taking steps to ban harmful single-use plastics

2. Climate Accountability

Relevant to the Mandate Letters of the following Ministers or their equivalent:

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade

Minister of Natural Resources

Essential Elements:

• An arm’s-length expert climate advisory committee drawn from all regions of the country, including Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge holders, with a legislated mandate to: advise government on long-term targets and the five-year carbon budgets; monitor and reports on government progress towards achieving positive indicators (see below), short-term carbon budgets/reduction targets and long-term targets, and; provides forward-looking research and advice to the Government on climaterelated policy.

• The development of positive indicators and criteria to assess government progress on climate action. These indicators should be quantitative in nature (e.g. “reduce the number of single passenger trips taken in vehicles with internal combustion engines”) and assess the cumulative effect of all policies, tax and regulatory measures working to achieve that goal (e.g. Zero emissions vehicle strategy, fuel efficiency standards, investments in public and active transportation, etc.)

• Prescribe a framework for considering projects’ climate effects in impact assessments and regulatory approval processes and require projects to show consistency with Canada’s legislated targets or budget in order to ensure that federally-approved projects fall within the legislated targets or budgets.

Context:

We expect the Government of Canada to be accountable to scientifically rigorous and socially just climate action and environmental stewardship. Legislated science-based climate targets must be backed by mechanisms that keep governments accountable and on track to meet those targets. One crucial mechanism is an expert body with a legislated mandate to provide climate-related advice to government, including forward-looking advice on course correction of existing policies or recommended new policies to achieve positive indicators, as well as short- and long-term GHG emissions reduction targets and carbon budgets, with the specified goal of ratcheting up the ambition of Canada’s action on climate change over time. Assessing government progress to achieving positive indicators, short-term, and long-term targets will require the expert advisory committee to make use of backward-looking data provided by agencies such as the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Office of the Auditor General, as well as other types of data collection, primary research, and analysis.

Further legislative accountability mechanisms must be built into the regulatory review processes underpinned by Canada’s new Impact Assessment laws, including climate tests for federally-approved and regulated projects.

Relevant commitments from the Liberal Party of Canada Platform:

• achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

• set legally-binding, five-year milestones, based on the advice of the experts and consultations with

Canadians, to reach net-zero emissions

• appoint a group of scientists, economists, and experts to recommend the best path to get to net-zero

exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions goal by introducing new carbon reducing measures

3. Resilience & Just Transition

Relevant to the Mandate Letters of the following Ministers or their equivalent:

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development

and Labour

Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Minister of Finance

Minister of Health

Minister of Indigenous Services

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic

Development

Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern

Affairs and Internal Trade

Minister of International Trade Diversification

Minister of Natural Resources

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency

Preparedness

Minister of Rural Economic Development

Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Essential Elements:

• Engage communities, workers and Indigenous rights holders in the process of developing and legislating a Just Transition Act that offers real assistance to communities and workers grappling with a variety of challenges, including automation and the necessary decline of greenhouse gas (GHG) intensive sectors.

• Invest in less GHG intensive industries, existing and emerging, and seek to expand their market share, being particularly cognizant of the need to gradually displace Canada’s GHG intensive exports.

• In partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities and Indigenous communities, develop a plan to ensure communities and Canada as a whole are climate resilient, offering protection from wildfires, flooding, extreme weather, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. Development of this plan must include realistic discussions of what the economic and health costs both of doing so and failing to do so, and the question of how this work will be paid for. Adaptation to protect Canadian communities is urgently required.

Canada must immediately begin to set in motion the steps necessary to shift our economy and our society from reliance on fossil fuels, to a future based on clean jobs, justice, health, and opportunity for all Canadians. The Government of Canada must work together with labour groups, employers, Indigenous rights holders and the provinces and territories to find climate and employment solutions for workers and communities. We can learn from the work of the Just Transition Task Force for Canadian Coal Power Workers to develop a Just Transition Act that aligns with our climate targets. A Canadian Just Transition Act should include dedicated employment support that combines access to expanded EI benefits, re-training, and job placement services, paired with significant investments to create quality local jobs and support thriving communities.

In taking action, we can seize upon incredible opportunity to put Canadians to work in good, green jobs, to build a Canada that is energy efficient, sustainable, resilient and healthy. It is a powerful moment to reassert Canada’s role as a global leader on climate action, international development aid, and global climate finance. At home, this is our chance to ensure all Canadians, from all walks of life and all regions of the country, share the same basic access to clean drinking water, 21st Century infrastructure and technology, and economic opportunities.

While the opportunity is vast, the urgency is paramount. Nowhere is transformative change already being felt more than in the ways Canada’s climate is changing. The impacts of climate change become more dangerous and costly to Canadians by the day, from flooding in cities and towns across the country, to destructive wildfires, rising sea levels and melting permafrost. We’re seeing shorter winters and people on the West Coast now refer to a smoke season. Powerful storms. Decimated crops. Emerging disease vectors. These impacts transcend mere environmental consideration, affecting the whole of our economy, our social well-being, and our physical and mental health. These local pieces of the larger climate picture confirm a stark truth: no individual, group, or political party can afford to ignore this issue. The time to act is now.

Relevant commitments from the Liberal Party of Canada Platform:

• ensure energy workers and communities can shape their own futures by introducing a Just Transition

Act, giving workers access to the training, support, and new opportunities needed to succeed in the clean economy

• move forward with the Canada Training Benefit, which gives workers money to help pay for training, provides income support during training, and will also offer job protection so that workers can take the time they need for training, knowing they will have a job to come back to when their training is done

• move forward with creating the Canadian Apprenticeship Service, in partnership with provinces, territories, employers, and unions.

• a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, starting in 2020 and rising with inflation, with provisions to ensure that where provincial or territorial minimum wages are higher, that wage will prevail

• work with Statistics Canada to strengthen local labour market data, so that Employment Insurance can better reflect local labour market realities, especially in large and diverse regions

• create about 3,500 seasonal jobs in tree planting each year

• invest $100 million in skills training, to ensure there are enough qualified workers to keep up with energy audits, retrofits, and net-zero home construction

• help people and communities deal with the realities of increased climate-related risks and disasters

• protect homeowners who are at high risk of flooding and don’t have adequate insurance protection, by creating a low-cost national flood insurance program

• help Canadians better understand the risks they face when they buy a home, by working with provinces and territories to complete all flood maps in Canada

• develop a national action plan to assist homeowners with potential relocation for those at the highest

• move forward with an additional $1 billion investment over the next decade in the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund

• move forward with a new Employment Insurance Disaster Assistance Benefit, to be developed in consultation with experts, workers, and employers. This new benefit will launch in 2021 and will help replace the income that is lost when families need to temporarily stop working to protect their homes, or because they need to relocate to safety.

4. Stop letting oil and gas interests disproportionately define policy

Relevant to the Mandate Letters of the following Ministers or their equivalent:

Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Minister of Finance

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic

Development

Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern

Affairs and Internal Trade

Minister of Natural Resources

Minister of Rural Economic Development

Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Minister of Transport

Essential Elements:

• Lead a national conversation about the future of Canada’s oil and gas sector in the age of the climate crisis.

• Commit to no new expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

• Eliminate federal fossil fuel subsidies and work with provinces and territories to eliminate provincial and territorial subsidies.

• Commit to the timely completion of the Canada-Argentina fossil fuels subsidies peer-review, followed by swift implementation of recommendations to support the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies as a key mechanism for achieving climate targets.

• Given the cessation of government fossil fuel subsidies and new fossil fuel infrastructure expansion, the Government of Canada must cancel the Trans Mountain Expansion project.

• Support new renewable energy deployment and clean technology innovation through incentives and subsidies.

Context:

For Canada to meet its Paris Agreement commitment and succeed in the coming decade of transformation, the Government of Canada must stop using public funds to support oil and gas companies, and ensure energy infrastructure projects are consistent with the goal of mid-centuryd ecarbonization. Instead, we need to plan for an economy that is not dangerously tethered to technologies and economic drivers that are rapidly becoming obsolete worldwide. We must redirect public investment into the foundations of the future economy and society by supporting research, development and deployment of renewable energy solutions, tailored to each region of Canada, while driving responsible economic diversification that ensures our country will flourish in the 21st Century. Relevant commitments from the Liberal Party of Canada Platform:

• move forward with new clean electricity generation and transmission systems, in partnership with the provinces, territories and others

• move forward with a new $5-billion Clean Power Fund. This fund will help support the electrification of Canadian industries, including our resource and manufacturing sectors, and make Canada home to the cleanest mills, mines, and factories in the world. The Clean Power Fund will also help support the transition of northern, remote, and Indigenous communities off reliance on diesel-fueled power and onto clean, renewable, reliable energy. This will be sourced through the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s existing resources.

• cut corporate taxes in half for businesses that develop technologies or manufacture products that have zero emissions.

• make Canada a true world leader in zero-emissions clean tech

• To help producers get the technology and infrastructure they need to scale up and create more good jobs, we will move forward with a new technology and commercial support fund, administered through Western Economic Diversification. This fund will help connect farmers, researchers, agribusinesses, and energy companies, and help give producers an advantage in the clean economy.

5. Respect Indigenous Rights

Relevant to the Mandate Letters of the following Ministers or their equivalent:

All Ministers of the Government of Canada

Essential Elements:

• Fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Respect free, prior and informed consent

Context:

Although the Government of Canada often speaks of commitments to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, basic, fundamental inequities experienced by Indigenous Canadians continue to preclude meaningful progress on many issues that are priorities for Indigenous Peoples in colonial Canada.

Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of climate action, embodying the deepest and most well-informed expertise about Canada’s lands and waters, while serving as proven expert stewards of rich biodiversity. Meanwhile, Indigenous communities are among Canada’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. For Inuit in the Arctic, homes are jeopardized by permafrost melt and food sources and livelihoods are rendered increasingly precarious due to Arctic Sea ice loss and its attendant ecological impacts. For remote communities throughout the boreal and tundra zones in Canada, reliance on winter ice roads for annual supplies and provisions has become increasingly tenuous.

Climate change-driven ecological impacts even in the south of Canada are shifting the range of food animals like moose and caribou and are affecting the availability and quality of plant medicines that Indigenous peoples have relied on for thousands of years.

Canada’s current NDC calls for meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples, and includes support for monitoring and addressing climate impacts in Indigenous communities. But this engagement has been less than successful so far, with tension erupting between the Assembly of First Nations and government representatives during the development of the PCF.

For Canada to meaningfully, respectfully and effectively take serious action on climate change, Indigenous peoples and Indigenous rights must not just be considered, but must be at the centre of this work. Canada needs to take this issue seriously by integrating the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into future climate policy, including the right to free, prior, and consent.

Relevant commitments from the Liberal Party of Canada Platform:

• move forward with introducing co-developed legislation to implement the Declaration as government legislation by the end of 2020. In this work, we will ensure that this legislation fully respects the intent of the Declaration, and establishes Bill C-262 as the floor, rather than the ceiling, when it comes to drafting this new legislation

Concluding Remarks

To deliver on its Paris promise, the previous Canadian government worked with the provinces and territories, and consulted with national Indigenous organizations, to launch the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth (PCF) in 2016. This was a critical step, and it set in motion a set of policies and regulations designed to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy. These include carbon pricing, a 2030 coal phase-out, clean fuel standards, efficiency measures in buildings and transportation, and regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, among others. The federal government made historic investments in public transit, and modified capital depreciation rules to accelerate investment in zero carbon technologies. As Canadians, our climate leadership means enhancing every one of these policy areas. We are committed to ensuring Canadian civil society participates fully in collaboration with the Government of Canada, under your leadership, to transform Canada for success in the 21st century clean energy world.

Signed,

Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat

Canada

Canadian Association of Physicians for the

Environment

Canadian Interfaith Fast for the Climate

Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Citizen’s Climate Lobby

Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern

Ontario

Citizens for Public Justice

Clean Air Partnership

Climate Equity Reference Project Canada

ClimateFast

Climate Reality Project Canada

Conservation Council of New Brunswick

David Suzuki Foundation

Ecojustice

Ecology Action Centre

Ecology North

Ecology Ottawa

Environmental Defence Canada

Energy Mix Productions

Faith and the Common Good

Foundation for Environmental Stewardship

Green13

Greenpeace Canada

Just Earth

KAIROS

Leadnow

Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Vegans & Vegetarians of Alberta

Windfall Ecology Centre

World Federalist Movement – Canada

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