Federal parties need to go after “big ticket items” to reduce emissions, says activist
CanadaEnvironmentNewsPolitics Sep 17, 2021 Hansil Mehta
A climate activist says climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue in this election.
Cathy Orlando, Program Director at Citizens’ Climate International is disappointed to see vastly different plans and politics surrounding climate action from the parties vying to form government.
In 2010, Orlando started the first international chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Sudbury. As far as her and the organization’s fight against climate change is concerned, it all comes down to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, also sometimes referred to as carbon emissions.
Canada under leadership of the Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau recently committed to reducing carbon emissions by 40 to 45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.
This was an increase from the 30 per cent reduction target set as a part of the Paris Climate Accords in 2015.
The only federal parties promising more ambitious targets are the NDP and the Green Party.
The NDP has pledged that to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.
The Green Party has promised to cut emissions by 60 per cent upon forming a government.
Orlando says she admires the ambitions of the NDP and the Green Party, but she likes the Liberal plan, which she describes as evidence based and costed.
“I think they’re being sincere when they say their plan will get us 40 to 45 per cent reductions,” Orlando says. “I know it’s not enough, but we can build on that.”
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased every year after 2015 until 2019 according to the government’s own data, the Liberal government claims Canada is on path to exceed its original emission reduction target of 30 per cent by 2030.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has pledged to return Canada’s emissions target to that of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which was originally set by the Conservative Harper government.
“It is disappointing to see that the targets for the Conservative Party of Canada are not strong enough,” Orlando says.
For instance, the U.S. also upped its pledge from the Paris targets to reduce the emissions by 50 to 52 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.
But pledging targets is one thing. Having policies in place to achieve them is another.
Policies such as carbon pricing and transitioning to a clean economy are also topics that come up in most of the major political parties’ platforms.
But Orlando argues that many issues such as planting trees, ending fossil fuel subsidies and subsidizing clean energy barely reduce emissions.
“We should go after big ticket items that will really reduce emissions,” Orlando says.
Orlando wants a stronger carbon pricing policy for industries. She also wants climate disclosures from banks.
“Canadian banks invested almost $500 billion in fossil fuels since the signing of the Paris agreement,” Orlando says quoting a report commissioned by the Greenpeace Canada. “That is putting our banking infrastructure here in Canada at risk.”
According to the report from the consulting firm Profundo, Canadian banks provided nearly $800 billion in loans and investments to companies active in fossil fuel sector since December 2015.
Orlando says Canada should take inspiration from New Zealand to mitigate this issue.
In April this year, New Zealand made it mandatory for financial institutions to report their investments and their climate impacts starting in 2022.