Liberals cave on climate – leaving weak Conservative targets in place

(OTTAWA) September 19, 2016 – The Green Party of Canada released the following statement following the announcement Sunday morning by Environment and Climate Change Minister, the Hon. Catherine McKenna, during an interview on CTV’s Question Period. For the first time, the Minister claimed the former Conservative government’s climate greenhouse gas emissions target – 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 – as the goal of the new government.

“This news is nothing short of a disaster for the climate,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “Minister McKenna always said the Harper-era target for greenhouse gas emissions – among the weakest in the industrialized world – would be ‘the floor,’ and Prime Minister Trudeau claimed we would ‘meet or exceed’ those previous targets. It is clear that the Harper target is incompatible with the Paris Agreement – to avoid going above 2 degrees Celsius and strive to hold global average temperature to no more than to 1.5 degrees C above what they were before the Industrial Revolution. Yet today, Minister McKenna abandoned any real commitment to avoid 1.5 degrees or even 2 degrees, even though her leadership in Paris helped get the treaty to embrace this necessary long-term goal,” Ms. May said.

Canada’s current Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) is part of the aggregate that was calculated by the United Nations climate secretariat in November – before COP21 –  to take the world well past a 1.5-degree increase, beyond the two-degree absolute red line, and to a range of 2.7-3.5 degrees.

“Catastrophic sea level rise and disastrous climate events become increasingly likely in this range,” Ms. May said.

“I am well aware negotiating with the provinces is difficult, but Canada must at least ensure we ratchet up to the same deadline year as the U.S. – moving from 2030 to 2025,” Ms. May said. “Even this small increase in ambition will push other nations to ratchet up their targets. Overseas carbon credits, which were endorsed in the Harper Cabinet’s decision document for the existing weak target, are just one option where Canada can demonstrate a real commitment and protect our children from the catastrophic impacts of leaving them a 3.5-degree world.”

Greens continue to press for aggressive climate action, rejecting pipelines of bitumen for export, removing fossil fuels from electricity production, investing in critical infrastructure for an improved east-west electricity grid, ramping up renewable energy, energy efficiency, under-pinned by a carbon-fee-and-dividend pricing scheme to transition Canada to a smart, post-carbon, prosperous economy.