In a recent in-depth interview with The Narwhal’s Caitlin Stall-Paquet, Canada’s new Environment and Climate Change Minister Guilbeault is dead serious about his climate to-do-list outlined in the Prime Minister’s mandate letter. He wants to do more and go much faster.
Doing More and Doing It Faster
“From overseeing 2030 targets to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, Steven Guilbeault has been tasked with one of the largest to-do lists of the entire federal cabinet. The environment minister says he’ll act quickly, even if it means not getting exactly what he wants.” — The Narwhal
“Guilbeault will have his hands full for the foreseeable future, with a total of 39 items—not including sub-bullets—and 27 mentions of “climate” in his mandate letter,” writes Mitchell Beer in The Energy Mix. Some of the items included are:
- Deliver a plan by the end of March to reduce Canada’s greenhouse emissions 40 to 45% from 2005 levels by 2030;
- Develop a plan to phase out public financing of the fossil fuel sector, including by federal Crown corporations;
- Accelerate our G20 commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from 2025 to 2023;
Our plan is starting to work, but we need to do more and we need to do it faster. Minister Guilbeault
- Set regulations to achieve a 75% reduction in methane emissions from oil and gas by 2030;
- Develop a “regulated sales mandate that at least 50% of all new light duty vehicle sales be zero emissions vehicles in 2030”, and 100% by 2035;
- Introduce Canada’s first national climate adaptation strategy in 2022;
- Continue to implement the national ban on harmful single-use plastics and achieve Zero Plastic Waste by 2030;
- Require that all plastic packaging in Canada contain at least 50% recycled content by 2030.
Guilbeault feels the urgency
Minister Guilbeault clearly gets the urgency of climate change. In response to a question about climate adaptation and the B.C. disasters—wildfires, atmospheric rainstorms, flooding—he is quick to point out that we knew this was coming.
“Yes. Well, you know, there are those instances in life where you don’t want to be right and many of us 30 years ago were talking about climate change and talking about upcoming climate impacts and people were saying you’re out to lunch, you’re an alarmist creating problems that are not there. And 30 years ago, scientists with the information that was available, thought that the type of things we’re seeing today would happen in 2050 or something like that, but it’s happening now, unfortunately.”
“Time is not my friend,” Guilbeault told The Narwhal interviewer. when asked if—as a climate activist—he would now be willing to make compromises to achieve the “tight timeframe” he has been handed. “People have different views in terms of how to do things, tactics, strategies, so you compromise. I think the key thing is never to compromise on your values and on what you believe in.”
This question and answer stands out from the Caitlin Stall-Paquet”
Question: Over the past 20 years, you went to many UN climate summits and often criticized the Canadian government for not doing its fair share on the international stage. What do you think activist Steven Guilbeault in 1997 would have told Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault at the 2021 summit in Glasgow?
Answer: I mean in those days we had no pricing, we had no investment in transit, very little investment to speak of in clean tech, no regulation, certainly no legislation to phase out coal use in Canada by 2030, no regulation on methane, we weren’t doing anything on EVs. If you look at my track record, I’ve never shied away from saying congratulations to a government or a company that I felt deserved it. But, I would also say you’ve got to do better and you’ve got to do it faster.
And now for the latest:
On December 10, 2021, Minister of Environment and Climate Change launched a consultation to engage Canadians in Canada’s ambitious plan to reduce emissions by 40%-45% below22005 levels by 2030. To date over 20,000 public submissions have been received. Minister Guilbeault’s response has been swift by extending the deadline to 11:59 pm on January 21, 2022.
🚨 DEADLINE EXTENDED! 🚨
How can Canada reach 40-45% reduced emissions below 2005 levels by 2030?
Send your ideas through the online portal, now open until 11:59 PM PST on January 21, 2022: https://t.co/kYVVNsQWvi pic.twitter.com/6rJycHR0uX
— Environment Canada (@environmentca) January 14, 2022
In spite of the deadline extension, the Government will remain on track to establish the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan by March 29, 2022.
Have your say in Canada’s Climate Plan by using this Environment Minister’s Public Consultation Toolkit.
Climate Change: Adaptation Is No Longer a Dirty Word
Surprising Climate Predictions For 2022
Canada’s Big Oil Reality Check
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Canada like the United States does not lack people who sound good on the climate. What it lacks is serious action that does not call for fossil fuel expansion.
You are so right Ed. Saying good is not the same as doing good. None of our politicians are getting it. I’m hoping Minister Guilbeault, the former activist, is still a true activist at heart.
I am not impressed with the idea that we can speed up consultations, that meetings are between experts, that the public doesn’t seem to be welcome in his consultations. There is a need for action, but it has to be a well rounded action plan and if the largest number of Canadians, and particularly the environmental advocates aren’t welcome the plan will be one of those best laid plans that will fail.
The Clean Energy standard work that he says has been going on for five years is invisible on his ministries website, not evident on the energy website, and no one returns calls on how a person can be involved in that process. It looks like a clean energy standard designed to allow ‘clean energy’ exports rather than a standard that develops the best options for the environment and the country.
Randal – thanks for the feedback.
In Question 6 of the recent consultation process, the Minister asked how Canadians wish to engage on climate going forward. Over 20,000 Canadians responded to the recent request for consultations. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of suggestions on how best to proceed. But will he do it?