*Letter available for download below
Mr. Justin Trudeau, LPC, MP
House of Commons
RE: First steps toward Paris Package for UN Climate Negotiations
Dear Mr. Trudeau:
Congratulations on your re-election to Parliament and forming government. We look forward to working with you to make Canadians proud of how the country responds to climate change. We believe that to make Canadians proud, the federal government, working with premiers, local governments, First Nations, Metis, Inuit, civil society, and citizens must show the country, and the world, that it cares about climate protection by taking positions that are fair, responsible and accountable.
Your first opportunity to show the world that Canada is prepared to play a more productive role within the climate negotiations will come November 8th to 10th in Paris where ministers, including from Canada, will gather for a Pre-COP (Conference of the Parties) meeting to advance consensus on outstanding negotiating issues. To support your first steps in preparing fair, responsible, and accountable positions at the Pre-Cop meeting and at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris November 29th to December 11th, we recommend:
- Calling a First Ministers meeting on Climate Change BEFORE the Paris meeting. We understand that there are reasons why the logistics of hosting a First Ministers meeting so quickly are difficult. Regardless, we believe that it is critical to do your best to make it happen. We need a First Ministers meeting because Canada must improve the offer that it will take to Paris.
- Canada’s offer in Paris needs to be improved on four fronts:
- Support inclusion of a long-term 100% renewable energy goal by 2050 within the Paris agreement. The long-term goal must support the ultimate objective of the Convention which is to avoid dangerous climate change. To have the greatest chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees (the level called for by the world’s most vulnerable countries and the goal that gives us the greatest chance of not crossing dangerous ecological thresholds implied by 2 degrees Celsius warming) requires a commitment to decarbonization through a 100% renewable energy system by 2050.
- Advance a 2025 target/Paris Package: Committing to setting a 2025 target, not just 2030 target, is in keeping with the United States. Critically, it is also is in line with the need to have five-year commitment periods that drive a review process that starts before 2020. This architecture is required to ensure we increase ambition so that global greenhouse gas emissions stay in the range of 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Current offers by governments are not enough to limit warming to below dangerous levels. Canada can commit to a 2025 date for its target (as well as 2030), five-year commitment periods, and to a robust review and ratchet-up mechanism without finalizing negotiations on a domestic target with provinces and territories. These architectural commitments would signal the return of Canada as a positive force in the climate negotiations.
- Promise to enshrine our emissions reductions targets in law: Our Paris offer CAN and SHOULD include a commitment to enshrine any national target in law to ensure accountability and achievement of our goals. While a First Ministers meeting before Paris won’t lead to agreement on a final national reduction target for Canada we do note that we believe that our fair share contribution is at least a 1/3 cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 (35% below 2005) and an offer up to $4 billion a year in financing mitigation and adaptation projects around the world by 2020. Our international financial investments, through vehicles like the Green Climate Fund and other World Bank and international development agency programs and initiatives would be ensure an equal share of mitigation and adaptation spending. We believe that Canada and all countries need to commit to full decarbonization of the world’s energy system by 2050.
- Increase pre-2020 ambition and actions: All governments, including Canada, need to do more to close the gap to their 2020 targets as part of their Paris package. Canada needs a robust, domestic climate action plan that ensures as just transition as we do more in the near-term to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to adapt to climate change impacts. These actions include moving forward on carbon pricing, ending fossil fuel subsidies, investing in low-carbon economy, renewable energy, and clean tech projects and programs through government investments and innovative financing and tax policy. We also urge your government to reform environmental assessments of energy projects to include consideration of upstream greenhouse gas impacts. Implementing climate protection measures will drive investments in green infrastructure, particularly in electricity and transportation, as well as in the natural resource sectors. These kinds of investments are critical to creating green, stable jobs for Canadians of all ages. Importantly, without near-term action, we cannot achieve our 2025 and 2030 goals without significant increased costs. The federal government can also make a commitment to increase efforts to close the gap to our 2020 target without finalizing a domestic target negotiation with premiers.
The country’s first opportunity to show the world we care occurs November 8th to 10th in Paris where 80 to 100 countries been invited by France and Peru to work together to advance further agreement on the Paris Package. Canada will be attending. We believe this meeting, as well as the G20 meeting scheduled for November 15th to 16th in Antalya, Turkey give Canada a chance to make things right on climate protection.
Once the Paris conference concludes and we enter a new year, the real work of developing a Canadian climate plan and implementation strategy begins. Our Policy Statement (attached Appendix) outlines the direction that Climate Action Network-Réseau action climat Canada believes will maintain quality of life, economic development and social well-being.
Once again, congratulations and best wishes as you take on the responsibilities of government. Protecting the climate is one of your government’s first foreign policy opportunities that will have global and domestic environmental, social and economic effects for years to come. We look forward to working with you to put Canada on track to transitioning away from fossil fuels to a 100 percent renewable energy system by 2050.
Domestic Policy Statement
Climate Action Network Canada – Réseau action climat Canada believes that to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, slow climate change, and make the transition to a climate friendly economy based on the efficient use of clean energy and resources, the following conditions must be met:
- Halt the expansion of oil, coal and gas extraction and related infrastructure because the global carbon budget is small and rapidly declining. We must cap new tar sands development, end pipeline and refinery expansion, as well as other risky and costly projects, such as hydraulic fracking, offshore oil-drilling or drilling in the Arctic. We must also rapidly phase out the use of coal in the electricity sector and get our cars and trucks off oil. The more electricity we make using technologies that rely on the sun, wind and water the faster we can tilt the economy toward sustainable jobs.
- Canada must accelerate its commitment to climate protection and meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target to contribute to global efforts to stay within the global budget needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C¹. Emissions from the oil and gas sector – the largest and fastest growing source of emissions in Canada – must be effectively regulated immediately.
- Canada must commit internationally to an ambitious national greenhouse gas reduction target for the next ten years (by 2025) that puts Canada on course to near zero emissions within 35 years (by 2050)². The target must be legislated domestically. Canada also needs to commit to financing international action that generates global reductions in line with preventing dangerous climate change. Canada should:
- Update targets and plans every five years to reach the long-term goal of near zero greenhouse gas emissions based on the phasing in of a clean energy system. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada should support the goals of complete decarbonization of the world’s energy systems within 35 years (by 2050), and an end to net deforestation as soon as possible.
- Develop and implement a national climate plan to meet the domestically legislated target in partnership with provinces/territories and municipalities. The plan(s) should:
- Seize Canada’s potential in the clean energy economy by, among other measures, putting a strong and predictable price on carbon pollution that is designed to increase rapidly over time so industry and consumers respond to market signals and shift their energy consuming behaviours. We recognize that some provinces have already taken the lead on implementing carbon pricing regimes and that others will follow. The federal government has a critical role to play in ensuring national targets are met, establishing best practices, and facilitating integration of provincial carbon pricing systems, as well as international linkages. We believe that a carbon trading system works best when all permits are auctioned and where there is broad coverage. Whether a carbon levy, carbon trading or a combination of both, we also believe that revenues should be used either to facilitate the transition to a clean energy system (i.e., green infrastructure, energy efficiency and conservation, and renewable energy projects), and/or to contribute to tax shifts that lower income taxes.
- Plan for protection of the most vulnerable in our society, (i.e. Aboriginal communities and those living on low or fixed incomes) when implementing all clean energy system policies, including carbon pricing,
- Establish, in partnership with provinces/territories and municipalities, positive targets for, as examples, renewable energy generation installed, homes and buildings retrofitted for energy efficiency, and low or zero-emitting cars on the road. Numerous studies show there is cost-effective potential for a 100 percent renewable electricity system to supply energy to homes, buildings and vehicles.
- Establish stringent energy efficiency and conservation improvement standards for all new homes and buildings, appliances, equipment, and vehicles.
- End subsidies to the oil, coal and gas sector that encourage exploration, development, refining, and export of these sources of energy and redirect those subsidies toward low-impact renewable energy generation and energy efficiency.
- Stimulate sustainable transportation by investing in accessible urban and intercity public transit, active transportation like cycling and walking, discourage single-occupancy automobile use, and shift freight movement from road to rail.
- Require efficient urban development and land-use planning that preserves and expands urban green space and farmland, retains forests and waterways, prevents further urban sprawl and factors in requirements for adapting to a changing climate as the foundation for federal/provincial-territorial/municipal infrastructure funding partnerships and tri-partite agreements
- Require independent third party audits and assessment of climate plan implementation outcomes.
- Accelerate research and development in emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, including storage, with the aim of positioning Canada at the forefront of the global clean energy revolution.
¹ The 2020 gap is, according to a recent United Nations Environment Programme report, the difference between global emission levels consistent with the 2°C and emission expected if country commitments are implemented. “Global emissions should not be higher than 44 Gt CO2 eq. …However the range of expected global emissions (median estimates) from the pledge cases is 52 – 54 Gt CO2 eq. in 2020. The gap in 2020 is therefore 8 – 10 Gt CO2 eq.” The Emissions Gap Report 2014: A UNEP Synthesis Report, November 2014, p. xix
² The New Democratic Party’s Private Members Bill C-619: The Climate Change Accountability Act, calls for a target of 34 percent below 1990 levels by 2025 (about 47% below 2005 by 2025).