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432-00336 (Environment)

PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED

We the undersigned Canadian youth respectfully request that the House of Commons give serious consideration to the following:

WHEREAS, the impacts of climate change are accelerating in Canada and around the world, leading to Canada declaring a Climate Emergency, Canadian youth are anxious that they are being left with an uncertain future in which we can grow, survive, and thrive.

THAT, Canada has endorsed the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 °C in order to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change, yet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have failed to decline in Canada;

THAT, Canada's current GHG reduction targets are not consistent with doing our fair share to meet the global goals agreed upon in Paris to mitigate climate change;

THAT, subsidizing fossil fuel production, export and expansion, including new pipelines, are NOT compatible with the stated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

THAT, the government's continued support of the fossil fuel industry, in spite of scientific evidence of the cumulative damage of emissions, puts our future in danger;

THAT, youth want jobs that are sustainable and not for short-term gain at the expense of future generations.

THEREFORE, your youth petitioners, and those who care deeply about youth, call upon the House of Commons to take meaningful steps to support the future of young Canadians and fulfill Canada's obligations under the Paris Agreement by adopting a detailed climate action strategy that includes legislated science-based targets for greenhouse gas reduction with a plan to meet them, including but not limited to: implementing a comprehensive and steadily rising national carbon price beyond 2022 that rises to at least $150/t by 2030; eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and redirecting those investments into renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, low-carbon transportation, and job training.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable JONATHAN WILKINSON

Canadians are already feeling the impacts of climate change and extreme weather such as the changing intensity and frequency of flooding, storms, wildfires, coastal erosion, extreme heat events, thawing permafrost, and sea level rise. These impacts pose significant risks to the safety, security, health, and well­being of all Canadians, our communities, the economy, and the natural environment.

Following adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) invited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prepare a Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. Released in October 2018, the report found that globally, net anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions need to reach 'net zero' by around 2050 to meet this goal.

To contribute to the achievement of the Paris Agreement, and in pursuit of efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the Government of Canada is committed to exceed Canada's 2030 emissions reduction goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below 2005 levels and working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 also responds to the IPCC's latest scientific assessment.

Canada's climate plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF), adopted on December 9, 2016, is a comprehensive plan which includes both individual and joint federal, provincial, and territorial climate actions to reduce emissions, accelerate clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. This plan was developed in collaboration with provinces and territories, and with input from Indigenous Peoples, businesses, civil society, and Canadians across the country.

The PCF outlines over 50 concrete measures to reduce carbon pollution, help us adapt and become more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate, foster clean technology solutions, and create good jobs that contribute to a stronger economy. Key measures include:

  • regulating methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, which will reduce carbon pollution by about 16.5 million tonnes in 2030;
  • accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 as part of our efforts to have 90% of electricity from non-emitting sources, and supporting workers and communities transition to a low-carbon economy;
  • developing "net-zero energy ready" building codes to be adopted by 2030 for new buildings;
  • establishing mandatory labeling of building energy use to provide businesses and consumers with information on energy performance, and setting new standards to improve the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment;
  • increasing the stringency of emissions standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, and taking steps to improve efficiency and support fuel switching in the rail, aviation, marine, and off-road sectors;
  • adopting a Climate Lens to ensure that future climate impacts are considered and addressed in all federally funded infrastructure projects; and
  • establishing a new Canadian Centre for Climate Services giving Canadians better access to climate science and information.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of tackling climate change while growing the economy as a means of creating jobs and ensuring competitiveness. Since 2015, the Government of Canada has committed about $60 billion to reduce emissions, adapt to a changing climate, and support clean technology innovation and the transition to a clean growth economy. Commitments include:

  • more than $28 billion to support public transit, including over 1,211 transit projects approved;
  • $26.9 billion to support green infrastructure, including support for renewable energy, electric vehicle charging, natural gas and hydrogen refuelling stations, clean energy in rural and remote communities, and climate adaptation and resiliency initiatives (e.g., flood mitigation under the $2-billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund);
  • $3 billion to support the development, adoption, and scale-up of clean technologies;
  • over $2 billion to help cities and towns adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change, delivered through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (e.g., $75 million for the Municipal Climate Innovation Program, $50 million for the Municipal Asset Management Program, and over $1 billion in support for building energy efficiency investments);
  • $2 billion to generate clean growth and reduce carbon pollution from buildings, industries, forestry, and agriculture by leveraging investment in projects through the Low Carbon Economy Fund;
  • the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan to improve marine safety and responsible shipping;
  • $1.3 billion for nature conservation;
  • $300 million to provide Canadian drivers and businesses with purchase incentives for zero-emission vehicles;
  • over $64 million to help rural, remote, and Indigenous communities transition off diesel fuel;
  • $108 million to establish the Canadian Centre for Climate Services, which is improving access to trusted, useful, and timely climate information and data to support adaptation decision-making; and
  • over $100 million in targeted federal funding to support specific economic sectors such as transportation, agriculture, and health and communities, including Indigenous and Northern communities (e.g., $52 million for the First Nations Adapt Program and $47 million for Climate Change Preparedness in the North).

The PCF identified carbon pollution pricing as an important and cross-cutting mitigation measure. It is an area that has benefited from substantial leadership from several provinces. In October 2016, Prime Minister announced the Pan-Canadian Approach to Pricing Carbon Pollution (federal stringency requirements).

This pan-Canadian approach to carbon pricing is a practical and cost-effective way to address climate change and will contribute to substantial emissions reductions, stimulate innovation, clean growth, and jobs for the middle class. By putting a price on carbon pollution, the Government of Canada is fulfilling our commitment to address climate change in the most effective and economical way possible. The stringency of the carbon pricing system needs to increase over time and this should be based in legislation — to provide certainty to businesses and consumers and contribute to our national GHG emission reduction target.

  • For jurisdictions implementing an explicit price-based system, the carbon price started at $20 per tonne in 2019, and will rise by $10 per year to $50 per tonne in 2022.
  • Provinces with a cap-and-trade system need to have (i) a 2030 emissions reduction target equal to or greater than Canada's 30% reduction target; and (ii) a cap-and-trade system with declining (more stringent) emission caps (to at least 2022) that correspond, at a minimum, to the projected emissions reductions that would have resulted from applying the direct carbon price that year.

The Framework also committed to the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to complete a series of reviews by 2022 in order to provide certainty on the path forward after 2022.

Canada's climate plan is working. Canada's most recent GHG emissions projections estimate that Canada's GHG emissions in 2030 will be 227 million tonnes lower than projected prior to the Pan-Canadian Framework or 19% below 2005 levels. This improvement, equivalent to approximately a third of Canada's emissionsin 2005, is widespread across all economic sectors reflecting the breadth and depth of the Pan-Canadian Framework.

However, the Government of Canada recognizes that more action is needed. This is why the Government continues to work with partners and stakeholders in continuing to implement the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change and has also introduced new federal climate measures including:

  • A strengthened climate plan, launched on December 11, 2020. This plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, outlines federal policies, programs, and billions in investments to build a stronger, cleaner, more resilient, and inclusive economy. It is based on five strategic priorities:o   making the places we live and gather more affordable by cutting energy waste;o   making clean, affordable transportation and power available in every community;o   continuing to ensure pollution isn’t free and households can get more money back;o   building Canada’s clean industrial advantage; ando   embracing the power of nature to support healthier families and more resilient communities. 
  • Once fully implemented, this plan would enable Canada to exceed its current 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target under the Paris Agreement.
  • This plan builds on key climate action measures announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement (November 30, 2020), including investments in home energy retrofits, zero emission vehicle infrastructure, nature-based climate solutions (e.g. planting 2 billion trees, climate smart ecosystems, support for commercial tree planting), and strategic interties.

In addition, the Government of Canada also recently tabled the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which delivers on the Government’s commitment to legislate Canada’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Once the bill becomes law, it will establish a legally binding process for the Government of Canada to set five-year emissions reduction targets based on the advice of experts and Canadians to ensure transparency and accountability as Canada charts a path to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The Act also requires emissions reduction plans for each target and the publication of interim and final reports on implementation of the plans and the emissions reductions they achieve, as well as periodic examination and reporting by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on the implementation of these mitigation measures. The Act will also establish a Net-Zero Advisory Body to provide independent advice to the Government of Canada on the best pathways to reach its targets, and also enshrine greater accountability and public transparency into Canada’s plan for meeting net-zero emissions by 2050.

At the same time, we also recognize that oil and gas will remain important global commodities and that we cannot make a transition to a low-carbon economy overnight. Canada is committed to supporting the responsible development of Canada's oil and gas sector as a source of good jobs. Pipelines are an efficient mode of transportation for oil and gas products and are required to undergo a robust and rigorous environmental assessment. Officials from my department participate in these assessments by providing scientific and regulatory expertise to determine the project's potential effects on air quality and GHG emissions, water quality, species at risk, and migratory birds. The assessment process also allows decisions to be informed by consultation with, and input from, the public and Indigenous Peoples.

With respect to concerns about subsidies for oil companies, Canada is committed to fulfilling the G20 commitment to rationalize and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium-term. The Government of Canada has already made significant progress in the last couple of years including:

  • modifying the tax treatment of successful oil and gas exploratory drilling. Consistent with the usual treatment of enduring assets, expenses associated with oil and gas discovery wells will be treated as Canadian development expenses, which are deducted gradually over time, rather than as immediately deductible Canadian exploration expenses, unless and until they are deemed unsuccessful.
  • removing the tax preference that allows small oil and gas companies to reclassify Canadian development expenses as immediately deductible Canadian exploration expenses when they are renounced to flow-through share investors. This will ensure that these development expenses, which create an asset of enduring value, are deducted gradually over time.

The Government of Canada understands that in these extraordinary times it must take the lessons learned from 2020 and invest in efforts that will address the country’s immediate challenges of jobs, economic growth, and inequality. These actions will help set the foundation for longer-term economic and environmental sustainability. Taking climate action now means seizing an opportunity that will help create new jobs in Canada, make the economy stronger and more competitive in the emerging clean global marketplace, and prepare Canada for the climate change risks ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

Presented to the House of Commons
Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay)
December 4, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00336)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Richard Cannings
South Okanagan—West Kootenay
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia

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