Canada falls short on climate change action, says pre-election report

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s time for our country to “walk the talk” when it comes to addressing the climate crisis.

That’s the major takeaway from a new report labelling Canada’s handling of the climate change crisis as “highly insufficient,” just days before people head to the polls.

The subject has been a major issue for many voters.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau certainly likes to tout his climate change credentials — despite the fact his government bought a pipeline.

Previously, Trudeau’s government had pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

However, the latest report from the Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis, finds Canada’s target would not meet the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement.

It finds even the recent measures announced in the 2021 federal budget are insufficient to meet the goals outlined as part of that deal.

“Canada has been feeling the brunt of climate impacts, with deadly heat waves and devastating forest fires on its West Coast,” the report reads. “Recent climate policy developments, while positive, are insufficient to address the climate crisis.”

The report notes Canada has also continued to “face challenges in implementing policies,” estimating the country has missed its 2020 target — even though emissions dropped during the pandemic due to business impacts.

None of this comes as any surprise to experts.

“The report to me is news that’s not news because we’ve known for a long time that Canada and the Liberal Party are failing on their climate promises,” said Jessica Green, associate professor of political science, University of Toronto. “If you read previous versions of the Climate Action Tracker report, they say the same thing: Canada is not pulling its weight on climate policy.”

Green says the numbers show Canada is not doing very well when it comes to its tackling of climate change, despite what some people may think.

“We’re only about four per cent of global emissions, but if you look at our per-capita emissions compared to other countries and if you look at our historical emissions, we are carbon pigs,” she told NEWS 1130.

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“So I think the issue is less whether or not we’re doing an okay job, and more what we’re going to do in the future to prevent, really, some of the most catastrophic effects of climate change and how they affect many vulnerable and racialized populations.”

The Climate Action Tracker’s “highly insufficient” rating indicates Canada’s climate plans and promises don’t meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target.

“Canada is also not meeting its fair-share contributions to climate change and in addition to strengthening its targets and policies also needs to provide additional support to others,” the report added.

Those behind the report say this country needs to “walk the talk” when it comes to implementing policy. However, there is room for Canada to raise its rating.

The Climate Action Tracker notes that if Canada is successful at bringing in all of its announced plans — old and new — it would be able to improve its policies and actions rating, which is also currently at “highly insufficient,” to “almost sufficient.”

Policies including increasing its carbon price, moving forward with 100 per cent sales target for zero-emission vehicles five years earlier, and committing to new targets for reducing methane emissions in oil and gas.

“For every step forward, Canada also seems to take two steps back,” the CAT says. “It continues to expand its pipeline capacity for fossil fuels, even though modelling by its own energy regulator shows that the additional capacity exceeds available supply under even relatively unambitious climate policy.”

Some parts of the country have suffered through extreme temperatures this summer, with B.C.’s Lytton seeing the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada three days in a row. The village was almost completely destroyed by a wildfire just days later.

With climate change a growing issue for many voters, however, just how much it would impact a person’s vote remains up in the air.

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“People say that they’re concerned about climate change but to what extent do they actually act on it at the polls? We see that people are really increasingly concerned and that messages about climate change, particularly from the Greens and the NDP, are resonating. We won’t know until all the levers are pulled,” Green explained.

“But I think that to the extent that parties can make climate change about things other than tons of carbon dioxide — about things like better jobs, better paying jobs, more resilient infrastructure, better public transportation, all these kinds of things — that the climate ‘file’ will resonate with people more and more.”

The report goes well beyond our country, though.

It notes most industrialized nations are failing to meet the mark, with China the worst of the world’s carbon emitters.

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