Canadian environment groups call on new parliament to cooperate and deliver. Once again Canada has a minority parliament, but it’s clear that the majority of Canadians voted for parties committed to taking stronger action on climate change.
Ottawa (15 October 2008) - Once again Canada has a minority parliament, but it’s clear that the majority of Canadians voted for parties committed to taking stronger action on climate change. Over sixty percent of people who cast their ballot voted for parties with more immediate and comprehensive proposals to fight climate change than Canada’s government-elect.
“With solid support from scientists, economists, voters and the opposition parties, Prime Minister Harper has a perfect opportunity to act decisively and show Canadians that his government will to do its fair share to fight climate change,” said Graham Saul of Climate Action Network, a coalition of Canada’s leading environment groups. “We’re calling on all political parties to work together in the new Parliament to take effective action to address climate change.”
The majority of Canadians voted for parties that support meeting our Kyoto commitments. To do its fair share in preventing global warming, Canada must bring its net national emissions to at least 25 per cent below the 1990 level by 2020. “The government’s current target of only 3 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 is woefully inadequate and does not reflect the overwhelming desire of voters to keep climate at the top of the political agenda,” stated Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada. A poll conducted by Strategic Communications during the election campaign indicated that 71 percent of Canadians wanted federal party leaders to keep the climate issue at the top of the agenda.
“Unfortunately, during the election campaign, the debate frequently pitted the environment against the economy. But, protecting the environment and increasing our economic prosperity go hand-in-hand,” said Morag Carter of the David Suzuki Foundation. “Delaying action to cut our dependence on fossil fuels puts Canada’s economic competitiveness at risk in the growing global market for clean, renewable energy and cleaner transportation technologies”, Carter added.
The pace of Canada’s action on climate change is grindingly slow. The regulations proposed by the Conservatives in “Turning the Corner” would not take effect until 2010. Currently the regulations contain loopholes that further reduce the incentive for companies to take real action. Moreover, the “Turning the Corner” proposal uses intensity targets that would allow tar sands companies to nearly triple their greenhouse gas pollution between 2006 and 2017.
Canadians are already feeling the impact of climate change directly with unprecedented losses from extreme weather events, droughts and forest fires. British Columbia’s forestry sector has lost over $6 billion due to an infestation of pine beetles hastened by warmer temperatures. Water shortages are predicted in the western Prairies, the Okanagan and in the Great Lakes basin. “Shamefully, this is the Canada our children will inherit if we fail to act. Effective action on climate change is vital for our economy, our environment, our health and our future,” said Jean Langlois of the Sierra Club of Canada.
“The government should put an immediate price on pollution of at least $30 per tonne by strengthening and simplifying the government’s proposed regulations,” stated Marlo Raynolds of the Pembina Institute. “The Conservative platform released last week opened up the possibility of further delay in putting a price on pollution in Canada. This leisurely approach is completely out of step with the urgent warnings of climate scientists,” Raynolds added.
Repeatedly, over the past two years, Canada has been criticized on the international stage for being obstructionist in climate change talks. In 2009, Canada will join the global community in Copenhagen to put in place a new UN climate change agreement. “We will continue to put pressure on the government to ensure that the environmental message supported by the majority of Canadians at the ballot box is respected in upcoming climate change negotiations,” stated Steven Guilbeault of Équiterre.