Canada is currently undergoing a robust process of climate consultations. And it began shortly after the Vancouver Declaration on clean growth and climate change. At that First Ministers Meeting, Prime Minister Trudeau and the Premiers agreed to a climate framework that will be finalized this fall.
Climate Consultations – Symbolic or Authentic?
The Liberal government is encouraging Members of Parliament (MPs) to host climate consultations in their own communities. And to date many have complied and some are still planning climate events.
Photo credit: People’s Climate Plan
In addition, Canadians are encouraged to access the online platform to submit comments, concerns and suggestions about climate change and how to solve the problem. As a result, over 3000 participants have provided input on the five climate themes identified by the federal government:
- General Ideas of addressing climate change,
- How and where to reduce emissions,
- Clean technology, innovation and job creation,
- Preparing for the impacts of climate change, and
- Putting a price on carbon.
I’ve submitted two documents. The first is Carbon Pricing Now, a set of guidelines for an effective carbon pricing strategy for Canada. The second submission deals with the climate pillars required for a national climate and energy plan.
I’ve been following and attending climate consultations in Ottawa. I was a participant at Catherine McKenna’s (Minister of the Environment and Climate Change) townhall event and also the one hosted by my MP Karen McCrimmon. 350.Org Ottawa colleagues and activist friends from Ecology Ottawa have attended several other climate consultations in the Ottawa region.
Peoples Climate Plan (PCP)
The People’s Climate Plan is a climate action movement organized and supported by a collective of organizations and local groups. PCP supporters are flooding climate consultations across the country calling for the inclusion of three core pillars in a national climate plan for Canadians.
The Climate Pillars
Pillar #1: Respect climate science: Keep fossil fuels in the ground
The Paris Climate Agreement signals the era of fossil fuels must end. To do its fair share, Canada needs to commit to keeping over 85% of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
Canada’s climate plan cannot respect the science without committing to decarbonizing our economy before 2040. This means Canada must phase out coal and natural gas energy generation and reject all proposed long term fossil fuel infrastructure like the Energy East pipeline and Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Pillar #2: Build a 100% renewable energy economy and create clean, safe jobs
Our federal government must commit to powering Canada by 100% renewable energy by 2050.
To get there, we need to ensure workers receive support and training to make the shift to renewable energy jobs. We must invest in green infrastructure, public transit, and the creation of good, safe, clean jobs.
Pillar #3: We need a justice-based Climate Plan
Canada’s climate plan must be for all Canadians — Justice for Indigenous communities, Justice for workers and Justice for directly affected and marginalized communities.
The consultation process is government-sponsored but the PCP is people-driven. The former is meant to provide a forum for climate input. Some say it’s really just a feel-good process allowing the public to have a symbolic say in shaping Canada’s climate and energy policy.
As an active participant in both the government-initiated climate consultations and the People’s Climate Plan movement, I’m well positioned to share my observations and my personal reflections. In hundreds of climate consultations across the country and on the government climate portal, thousands of Canadians are standing up to be counted. Their demands are clear. Time after time, speaker after speaker — women, men, children, grandparents — are pressing for immediate action on the climate.
What Canadians Are Saying
Time and again these are the prevailing themes which have surfaced from the consultation process:
- The science is real. Canada’s climate plan must be based on scientific evidence.
- No more pipelines. Canada does not need more pipelines and new fossil fuel infrastructure. The energy future lies with renewables. It’s simply a poor investment.
- Keep it in the Ground. We must freeze the expansion of fossil fuels — the Alberta Tar Sands — if we are to transition to clean energy.
- Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies now.
- Canada needs a truly national carbon pricing tax led by the Federal government and not a piecemeal plan led by provinces with their own divisive agendas.
- We must transition to a clean energy economy by 2050 by starting immediately.
- Canada cannot meet its Paris Agreement targets — reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 — if it continues on the current emissions trajectory.
- There is a sense of urgency to climate action.
- The climate plan must be justice-based — for workers, Indigenous Peoples and marginalized communities.
- We have the solutions — the technology and the know how.
- What is lacking is genuine political will to make the tough decisions and the right choices.
- The Canadian public is ready to listen to and act upon climate truth. Our political leaders have an obligation to properly inform Canadians about the havoc that climate change will impose on their children and grandchildren.
- We need a comprehensive public education and marketing campaign to mobilize Canadians into concrete climate action.
- There is a disconnect between climate reality and political action. Some examples:
- actions must be good for both the environment and the economy
- we can’t go too fast on carbon pricing because it might affect Canadian unity
- pipelines and oil revenues will help pay for the transition to clean energy
- need to get our oil to tidewater for export as if one can rationalize moving emissions offshore
- A silent thread of denialism permeates the current political dialogue in the country.
- Institutional inertia is rampant because of donations from the fossil fuel sector to universities, libraries, school boards, hospitals, etc.
- Political donations and lobbying of politicians by the corporate sector is rampant.
- In most situations the consultative process is merely symbolic. Voters and citizens have minimal influence in shaping their own future.
- Climate doublespeak is everywhere. Canadian political leaders speak about our Paris Agreement emissions targets and yet continue to approve projects which generate more emissions, not less.
- It’s absurd to think we can reduce overall emissions by approving projects which produce more emissions — in other words reducing emissions by increasing emissions.
Obama in Canadian Parliament
During his recent address to Parliament, President Obama talked about the urgency of climate action:
Tundra is burning, permafrost is thawing. This is not a conspiracy. It’s happening.
This is a summer of climate discontent among activists like myself. The gravity of climate change is upon us. There is no time to waste.
Most of all, I’m left tearing my hair out over why our politicians are so timid when it comes to taking climate action. I question why we need more climate consultations. Consultations are not action.
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Activist and a blogger. He’s a member of 350.Org (Ottawa), Climate Reality Canada and Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa). Rolly has been published widely in both print and online publications. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest.