Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 18 September 2023:
Today, on the day Members of Parliament return to work after a summer of frightening wildfires and on the eve of the UN’s Climate Ambition Summit, more than 250 organizations from 30 countries sent a letter to the Liberal government asking Prime Minister Trudeau to follow through on a promise he made to the world two years ago at COP26 and put in place a strong cap on oil and gas emissions.
“We look to Canada as a wealthy, fair nation that can lead in showing the world that regulating powerful oil and gas companies can be done,” said Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy at Climate Action Network International. “But until it backs up its promises with real and immediate measures to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable, it will continue to lose credibility on the international stage – and to fuel climate disasters both within its borders and beyond.”
In the letter, signatories write that Canada is one of the world’s biggest polluters, as well as the largest oil and gas producers and exporters – and it’s lagging well behind other G7 countries on cutting emissions, held back by the outsized carbon footprint of the oil and gas industry. The sector accounts for almost 30% of Canada’s domestic emissions, and grew by 89% between 1990 and 2021 – all while other sectors of the Canadian economy reduced their emissions.
“We cannot get climate change under control without oil and gas companies doing their fair share,” said Caroline Brouillette, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada. “It’s been two years since the cap was promised. After a summer of brutal climate impacts, with the eyes of the world on Canada, and popular support for the emissions cap across the country, what will it take for Prime Minister Trudeau to finally follow through?”
The federal government originally promised draft regulations for the emissions cap last spring, but the timeline has been pushed back multiple times. Alberta premier Danielle Smith has vowed to fight the cap, and oil executives have been lobbying fiercely to extend the target and reduce its levels. Climate experts contend that for emissions to actually go down in Canada, the emissions cap must reduce emissions by at least 40 to 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Secretary-General will bring together “first movers and doers” for a Climate Ambition Summit, clearly setting a precedent that there can be no claims of climate leadership without just transition plans away from oil and gas. There is still no confirmation on whether Prime Minister Trudeau will make the cut.
Tessa Khan, Executive Director of Uplift UK: “Canada claims to be a climate leader, yet it is part of the tiny club of countries that continues to pour more fuel on the fire. Climate action means stopping new oil and gas drilling now, today. The hypocrisy of wealthy, oil-producing countries, like Canada, the US and the UK, urging the rest of the world to ‘keep 1.5 alive’, stops now. Justin Trudeau needs to stand up to the oil and gas industry, which is making obscene profits at our expense, and instead stand with the people around the world that are pleading with leaders to take real action before it’s too late.”
Sanjay Vashist, Director of Climate Action Network South Asia: “Wildfires in Canada are a testimony to what the future holds for us; climate impacts are dismantling all the social development countries have made. Unless fossil fuel phase-out is the reality, climate impacts like summers with high temperatures and thus wildfires will continue to endanger the existence of human life on Earth.”
Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy Campaign Manager, Oil Change International: “Canada’s plans for oil and gas expansion make it the second largest expander of oil and gas production in the world. We need an end to the uncapped pollution and endless greenwashing. If Canada no longer wants to be seen as a planet wrecker on the global stage, it must phase down its fossil fuel industry.”
Catherine Abreu, Founder and Executive Director of Destination Zero: “Canada’s Net-Zero Advisory Body has recommended that oil and gas emissions reductions targets be coherent with national targets and be legally binding. A cap on emissions from the oil and gas industry is the most effective tool the federal government has at its disposal right now to cut pollution from Canada’s most polluting sector – it’s time to make it happen.”
Dr. Claudel Pétrin-Desrosiers, President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment: “There comes a time when the need for coherence is felt in full force. For Canada, after a particularly devastating summer, between forest fires and heat waves – climate impacts that negatively affect people’s health – that time is now. As we did for the tobacco industry, it’s time to adequately regulate the fossil fuel industry, which is just as harmful and dangerous to health.”
Read the full letter here.
See photos of some of the actions Canadians have taken to demand a strong emissions cap here.
Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada is a coalition of 150 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Vicky Coo, Communications Lead