This Saturday, April 22, 2017, we celebrated International Mother Earth Day, also known as Earth Day. Dedicated to education, consciousness raising, and public mobilization in the face of climatic and environmental challenges, Earth Day has become an emblematic event all across the planet. The Government of Canada also chose Earth Day to sign the Paris Agreement one short year ago.
Is Canada back?
Canada is among the countries that ratified the Paris Agreement, which officially entered into force on November 4, 2016, and which will be implemented as of 2020, when the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end. You will recall that under the Agreement, signatory countries undertook to maintain global warming “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” and to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° degrees Celsius.” During negotiations of the Agreement, Justin Trudeau asserted that Canada was “back and ready to play its part in combating climate change” but recent developments on the issue suggest otherwise.
Taken as a whole, Canada’s actions are far from satisfactory, although some of the promises made by the Government of Canada have been kept, including the development of a national climate change strategy that includes carbon pricing as of 2018.
The greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets for 2025 and 2030 announced within the framework of the Paris Agreement are insufficient!
Not only have these targets remained the same as those adopted by the previous government, they may not be reached, according to the latest projections. Moreover, Canada is also on track to miss its GHG reduction target for 2020 under the commitment made at the time of the Copenhagen Accord in 2009.
By prioritizing the economy over the environment, a number of decisions announced in 2016-2017 by the federal government disappointed part of the population.
Amongst the decisions announced, we should mention the approval of proposals to build, extend, or replace a number of fossil-fuel-related infrastructures: Kinder Morgan, Enbridge Line 3, Pacific NorthWest, and Keystone XL (the answer with regard to East Energy is still pending). These various projects will lead to a significant increase in GHG emissions, thus further distancing Canada from its commitments.
We must do more!
Development and Peace invites all concerned citizens to promote climate justice by denouncing the weakness of the Canadian government’s climate policies. These policies are simply not compatible with the urgent need to act to avoid catastrophic global warming for our common home, for Canadians, as well as for the people of the Global South. In light of its current record and historical responsibility, Canada should do much more, both nationally and internationally. This involves accelerating a genuine transition to a low-carbon national economy and providing increased financial support for the populations of the Global South, who are already among the world’s most vulnerable people, so that they have the means to fight against – and adapt to – climate change.