Without changes the government’s strategic assessment on climate change is woefully inadequate, says Elizabeth May

(OTTAWA) – Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) has welcomed the decision by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to publish the discussion paper Developing A Strategic Assessment of Climate Change as part of its consultation on Bill C-69 The Impact Assessment Act.

However, Ms. May says the paper in its current form only reinforces her serious reservations about the government’s commitment to real action on climate change. “Though an assessment on climate change is welcome news, the government fails to provide a comprehensive strategy,” she said. “It offers a rule book on how to manage individual projects and ignores the larger problem.”

“The paper is bereft of vision and sufficient analysis. Time and again science warns us of the threat of climate change yet the government chooses to look the other way, hoping the problem will magically go away, rather than have the courage to face the fact that climate change will disrupt the lives of Canadians in every possible way. A genuine strategic assessment cannot only pay lip service to the Paris Agreement, it must, for one, answer whether the Harper target of 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 is consistent with our commitment to achieve the Paris goal.”

“In Paris, we promised to do our fair share to ensure that global average temperatures rise to no more than 1.5 degrees C above global average temperatures before the Industrial Revolution. But the Harper target of  30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 will not even come close to meeting that commitment. What is the government doing to fix this?” said Ms. May.

In her submission to the Environment Canada Consultation on the Development of Strategic Impact Assessment of Climate Change, Ms. May proposed a number of essential issues to be considered:

  • What level of global average temperature increase can we accept and still keep our Arctic sufficiently cold to preserve permafrost?
  • What  temperature increase  can we accept for the Arctic to remain sufficiently cold to – at least – preserve an ice-covered North Pole for most of the year?
  • What temperature increase can we accept and preserve our coastlines from extreme sea level rise?
  • What increase we can accept and avoid annual devastation from forest fires and flooding?
  • How do we plan to cope with the increasing health impacts of the climate crisis?
  • How must our infrastructure change?
  • How can our resource-based industries – forestry, fishing and agriculture – adapt to survive the climate crisis?
  • What are our obligations to assist the developing world adapt?

“When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivers its report, mandated by COP21 in October, it will most certainly find Canada’s current commitment to be woefully inadequate,” concluded Ms. May. “As the summer’s wildfires remind us, it’s time to face the facts. Climate change is real and, judging by their discussion paper, the government appears unprepared to meet its challenges.”