US and China announce action on climate change—Canada's turn? | National Union of Public and General Employees

US and China announce action on climate change—Canada's turn?

With bold new initiatives coming from the world's two largest economies to address climate change, it is time for the Canadian government to finally act!

Ottawa (14 Nov. 2014) — As the leaders of the United States and China announce a major deal to address climate change, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) wonders if the Canadian government will finally act.

"The Conservative government has said that it will bring forward a plan to address climate change," said NUPGE's National President James Clancy. "Now that the U.S. and China have set out a plan, will Canada's be far behind?"

Surprise agreement on climate change between world's two largest economies

The announced plan will see the United States reduce carbon emissions 26 — 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, almost twice the existing target, yet without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.

China, for the first time, has set 2030 as when it expects its emissions will "peak," or begin to decline. However, the White House said that it "expects that China will succeed in peaking its emissions before 2030 based on its broad economic reform program, plans to address air pollution, and implementation of President Xi's call for an energy revolution."

Empty rhetoric?

Canada's Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, had said that the federal government was going to bring forward a plan at a United Nations meeting in September 2014. 

"Let me be clear, Canada is fully committed to achieving a strong and effective global climate agreement in Paris next year," said the prepared text of Leona Aglukkaq's speech. 

"Both domestically and internationally we are demonstrating this commitment. We are not waiting to act. We are taking decisive action to ensure Canada remains a leader and contributes its part to this global cause."

However, many environmentalists and climate change activists feel that the Canadian government's statements are empty rhetoric.

Poor record on reducing greenhouse gases

In a recent article, noted scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki wrote that "Canada subsidizes the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $1.3 billion a year, despite a G20 agreement in 2009 to phase out subsidies."

Suzuki further went on to write that the "federal Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner's recent audit found Canada has no detailed plan to shrink carbon pollution and meet its international commitment, and has failed to release or enforce oil and gas sector emission regulations for our fastest-growing source of emissions, the oil sands, promised since 2006. Expanding oil sands and liquefied natural gas development will only make matters worse."

More information

Keeping Our Cool: A Climate Change Primer

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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