Canada is slowly emerging as one of the world leaders in the fight to curb global warming. The Trudeau government has adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The principal component of the climate plan is a national carbon price. Last week, I and dozens of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada (CCL) colleagues were on Parliament Hill lobbying for improvements to Canada’s carbon pricing policy.
The following is a condensed version of a Press Release issued by Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada along with my personal reflections as a volunteer lobbyist.
Lobbying on the Hill
Press Release: From October 21 to October 24, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) Canada held its fourth annual conference and lobbying days. “It was four days full of firsts and mosts,” said Cathy Orlando, the National Director of CCL Canada. “We had the most number of face-to-face meetings: 44 in one lobbying blitz,” she said. There were 49 meetings in all. Fifty-one CCL volunteers lobbied in those meetings, and in total, 65 people attended the conference.
Photo: From left to right, Peterson Toscano, Rolly Montpellier, Erin Smith, MP Francis Scarpalegia, Joe Jazvac. Taken in the lobby adjacent the House of Commons, Oct 23, 2017
Conference attendees agreed with the world’s leading climate analysts who warned us this June that we only have three years left to safeguard our climate. The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall by 2020 (see ‘Carbon crunch’).
However, here in Canada, our current greenhouse gas emission targets put forth by the Trudeau government are the same woefully inadequate targets that were set by the previous government. In early October, Canada’s Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand said Canada would not meet its 2030 target without additional measures.
Armed with two days of training and networking, 240 signatures from businesses and NGOs on their open letter and 652 print media hits in 2017, volunteers from across Canada presented five simple steps to improve Canada’s carbon pricing policy to MPs and Senators and help “bend the curve”.
The Five Asks
- That the carbon price is economy-wide and is applied upstream: at the wellhead, coal mine or point of entry into the economy.
- That the national carbon price continues to rise past 2022 with the objective of Canada exceeding our Paris targets and becoming a world leader in tackling the climate crisis and in the cleantech industry.
- That border tax adjustments are included in the policy to level the playing field for domestic industries with international jurisdictions without a similar carbon price.
- That the federal government work with the provinces and territories to ensure provincial carbon pricing systems can keep up with the rising federal minimum carbon price without imposing any additional burdens on low and middle-income Canadians. For example, the federal government could propose carbon fee and dividend as a model policy.
- To ensure that there is a consistent policy towards combating climate change, that the federal government, as promised in the 2015 Liberal election platform, end financial subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
My Personal Reflections
I found this year’s lobbying activities quite gratifying on a personal basis but also valuable in promoting improvements to Canada’s carbon pricing strategy.
I participated in meetings with Senator Rosa Galvez, Conservative Party Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt and three Liberal Members of Parliament – MP Francis Drouin, MP Francis Scarpalegia and MP Maryam Monsef’s legislative assistant, Lauren Essiambre. I came away from these meetings with a better appreciation of the “climate work” already happening across Canada. Conversations with MPs and Senators remain confidential but I can share the following personal observations:
- I’m impressed with Senator Rosa Galvez‘s deep knowledge of climate issues. I’m satisfied that we truly have a strong “climate senator” sitting in the Senate and I look forward to working with her in any capacity that is appropriate and that she sees fit.
- Deputy Conservative Party Leader Lisa Raitt‘s well-informed questions about carbon pricing policy were most refreshing at a time when Canada needs an all-hands-on-deck approach to the complex climate challenges facing Canadians.
- MP Francis Drouin represents a rural riding in which the farming community is adopting measures to reduce emissions while improving productivity and efficiency — new tilling methods, better seed selection and the reduction of chemical fertilizers.
- Our meeting with MP Francis Scarpalegia has given me a better appreciation of the complexities of having a national carbon price in a country as politically diverse as Canada. We have a complex system of governance because of the division of powers between the provinces and the federal government.
- MP Maryam Monsef was unavailable but the meeting with her assistant (Lauren Essiambre) provided a glimpse into the importance of climate change and carbon pricing for MP Monsef.
The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Canada) strategy to lobby Members of Parliament and Senators is proving to be an effective tool in the shaping of climate policy, and more specifically, Canada’s national carbon pricing plan. “We need to keep the ball rolling down its track toward what needs to happen,” says Rolly Montpellier, co-founder of Below2°C.
For the next couple of weeks, the world’s attention will be on climate change because of the climate negotiations in Bonn. Unless the world takes decisive and immediate action, future generations of people least responsible for global warming will suffer the most severe impacts.
The more people know, the more they can see what needs to be done