Stronger climate targets needed now: Elizabeth May to Environment and Climate Change Canada

(OTTAWA) June 30, 2016 – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands), submitted her recommendations today to the office of Environment and Climate Change Canada, to stress the imminent need to update Canada’s weak climate targets following the Paris Agreement.

“More than six months has passed since Canada played a key role in Paris to set bold, ambitious climate targets around the world,” Ms. May said. “The window is rapidly closing on avoiding a global average temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Anything beyond this rise will be catastrophic to the planet.”

In her report, Ms. May lays out the ways in which Canada can realign its energy priorities to embrace clean technology while growing the economy. Ms. May also highlights the need to prepare for more frequent catastrophic loss due to extreme climate events like floods, fires and storms.

“Agriculture Canada, the Canadian Forest Service and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans must accelerate their currently limited work on adaptation of the climate-dependent industries they regulate. Health Canada must expand work on vector-borne diseases. Priorities need to be reset,” Ms. May said.

“Instead of the obsessive focus on pipelines, why not build upgraders and a refinery in Alberta or Saskatchewan to the highest environmental standards to create more jobs, while stabilizing oil sands production to current levels? Why not use the finished product in Canada? This could displace our reliance on foreign oil imports,” Ms. May said.

In her recommendations, Ms. May also calls for:

  • establishing a standardized carbon tax across provinces
  • ending fossil fuel subsidies at the federal level
  • a robust climate adaptation strategy coordinated by a dedicated federal agency
  • an 18-month rewrite of the Canada Building Code to ensure maximum efficiency standards for new buildings
  • border tax adjustments to ensure imports from countries without effective carbon pricing regimes do not unfairly compete with Canadian products
  • more aggressive regulations of energy efficiency standards. It is estimated that as much as 10% of residential electricity use is for appliances that remain “on” even after the consumer has turned them “off.”  These instant-on features can be regulated to save energy, in the same way California has done
  • re-entering the Kyoto Protocol, and seeking iron-clad, gold plated carbon reduction opportunities in the developing world
  • more green venture capital funds to take great and proven ideas and move them to commercialization

“All of these things are possible. We just need the political will to make Canada a world leader in the 21st century, cleantech economy,” Ms. May said.