For immediate release.
Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 28 February 2022:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s new report on climate impacts and adaptation confirms the only way to avoid unprecedented suffering is to prioritize climate justice. The report also demonstrates that deep, fast cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are essential to prevent exponentially increasing impacts and keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada calls on the federal government to demonstrate it understands the urgency of this landmark report by immediately tabling it in Parliament for an emergency debate.
The report shows that no part of the world, including Canada, is safe from climate impacts. The most vulnerable people in society are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, including Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, children, the elderly, women, and people with disabilities.
The report paints a stark picture of the high costs of inaction. More frequent and more severe floods, forest fires, heat waves and droughts are destroying people’s livelihoods, homes, and communities causing multiple losses and damages. Ecosystems are collapsing, and food and water security and health care systems are buckling under the strain. Without radical action, catastrophic impacts will escalate.
For the first time, this IPCC report highlights the urgent need to prioritize both climate and social justice. The planetary emergency is the direct result of wealthy countries’ colonial land grabs and resource extraction. Changing course means transforming our social and economic systems to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of the poorest and most at-risk people. The report also recognizes the critical importance of Indigenous-led climate action and the need to uphold Indigenous rights and sovereignty.
This IPCC report makes clear that current climate impacts are a threat to the health, security, the economic development and livelihoods of people living in Canada, especially Indigenous Peoples. CAN-Rac Canada urges the federal government to open a national conversation on current impacts and projected economic and non-economic losses and damages in Canadian regions and cities by tabling the bill for an emergency debate in Parliament.
The report underlines the urgent need for faster, deeper emissions cuts to help avert the worst impacts of climate change. As one of the world’s highest emitters and largest producers of fossil fuels, Canada must play a leading role in cutting emissions and prepare people and communities to face climate impacts, while offering thoughtful and robust support for workers. The federal government’s upcoming Emissions Reduction Plan and oil and gas emission caps must show how all sectors of the Canadian economy – including the fossil fuel industry, Canada’s highest-emitting sector – will do their fair share in immediately and sharply reducing carbon pollution. Canada must also commit to tackling losses and damages both domestically and internationally.
This IPCC report is the most comprehensive review of climate impacts, adaptation action, and loss and damage ever conducted. It comes after the pandemic has starkly demonstrated how vulnerable our systems are, how global inequity hurts rich as well as poor countries, and the risks when science is ignored. The report’s Summary for Policymakers, which has been endorsed by all countries, directly criticizes incrementalist responses in the face of the climate emergency: “Most observed adaptation is fragmented, small in scale, incremental, sector-specific, designed to respond to current impacts or near-term risks, and focused more on planning rather than implementation.” Now, it is time for governments to follow through with rapid, transformative action this decade; we cannot afford anything else.
Key global numbers:
Today, about 3.3 billion people are living in countries with high human vulnerability to climate change.
Over 20 million people have been internally displaced every year since 2008 by extreme weather-related events.
Observed mortality from floods, drought and storms is 15 times higher for countries ranked as highly vulnerable compared to less vulnerable countries in the last decade.
With a 1.5°C global temperature rise,1-14% of terrestrial species will be at very high risk of extinction. If warming continues to 3°C, the extinction risk for unique and threatened species will be at least 10 times higher.
Half of the world’s population is experiencing severe water scarcity for at least one month per year due to climatic and other factors.
In Africa, 55–68% of commercially harvested inland fish species will be vulnerable to extinction under 2.5°C global warming by 2071–2100.
Direct flood damages are projected to increase by 4 to 5 times at 4°C compared to 1.5°C.
Key Canadian takeaways:
In Canada, misinformation and active resistance to climate action persist. Lobbyists from the oil and gas industry have spent billions to undermine science and unduly discount risk and urgency, resulting in the decades-long delay of urgent mitigation and adaptation action
Climate change has contributed to cascading environmental and socio-cultural impacts in the Arctic impacting Northern livelihoods, access to services, nutritional security and well-being.
The costs of climate change impacts have been rising in Canada since 1983, from an average of about $0.4 billion to $1.9 billion annually, although in many years costs have greatly exceeded this.
Wildfires are one of the top climate change risks in Canada, and have already incurred significant financial costs: the 2016 Fort McMurray fire caused $3 billion in insured damages. In 2017, one of the worst fire seasons, British Columbia spent over $500 million on fire suppression.
Fires, pests, and other factors could cause cumulative losses of $459 billion in forestry by 2080, with the worst losses in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.
Canada is experiencing greater losses and damages due to the increase in severity of floods and changes in intensity, timing and form of precipitation.
Climate change has already led to 85–99% reductions in kelp, an important habitat for fish, off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Eddy Pérez, International Climate Diplomacy Manager, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada:
“The science is clear: to avoid nightmare scenarios, we must end our dangerous addiction to oil and gas, which is fuelling the climate crisis, devastating nature, shortening lives, and making the world poorer. Governments at all levels must make urgent and deep emissions cuts to protect us from terrible health impacts and irreversible losses of biodiversity. This IPCC report presents us with a choice: either we continue down the road to disaster, or we work together to build a more equitable, just, and safe world.”
Julia Levin, Senior Climate and Energy Program Manager, Environmental Defence:
“The world’s scientists have delivered their starkest assessment yet of the frightening future that awaits us if we fail to act on climate change. As a top-ten global emitter, Canada bears enormous responsibility to lead the world in a responsible transition off of fossil fuels. The government must act immediately on its promises which means: capping emissions from the oil and gas sector, rejecting new oil and gas projects like Bay du Nord, redirecting fossil fuel subsidies into proven climate solutions, and investing in a fair transition for communities and workers. Delay will be measured in lost lives, livelihoods, species and ecosystems.”
Alex Speers-Roesch, Climate Policy Analyst, Greenpeace Canada:
“Climate change impacts have already caused major loss and damage to people and nature, and Canada is no exception with the recent deadly heat waves, forest fires and floods that have hit our country. This report must be an electrifying wake up call for all governments, including that of Justin Trudeau, to stop approving oil and gas projects and instead accelerate the phase out of fossil fuels and implement more ambitious climate plans aligned with the science.”
Severn Cullis-Suzuki, executive director, David Suzuki Foundation:
“Canada must confront its climate paradox and make better decisions, with eyes wide open. We can choose bold climate action and invest in our clean energy future. We can choose better health, long-term jobs and more resilient, safe and equitable communities. Or we can keep supporting a polluting industry with dwindling jobs and a toxic legacy that concentrates wealth with a corporate elite at the cost of their workers, Indigenous rights, frontline communities and all life on Earth. We can’t choose both.”
Ian Thomson, policy manager, Oxfam Canada:
“This catalogue of pain, loss and suffering must be a wake-up call to everyone. Inequality is at the heart of today’s climate crisis — in the little over 100 days since COP26, the richest one per cent of the world’s population have emitted much more carbon than the population of Africa does in an entire year. The poorest who have done the least to contribute to climate change are suffering the most and wealthy countries have a moral responsibility to help those communities adapt.”
Michael Polanyi, Policy and Campaign Manager, Nature Canada:
“The new IPCC report is clear: climate change is causing great harm, not only to human communities, but also to species and ecosystems upon which our survival depends. Canada should heed the report’s urgent call to ramp up action to protect and restore Earth’s ecosystems, building on our commitment to protect 30% of land and water by 2030. As home to globally-significant forests, wetlands and coastal areas, Canada should also play a leadership role by prioritizing nature-based solutions for climate adaptation, and by launching a plan to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.”
Glenn Wright, Saskatchewan Coalition for Sustainable Development:
“The facts are that coal, oil, and gas are responsible for over 80% of the cause of dangerous climate change. Sadly our provincial government is planning to increase oil production by 25% by 2030. We are accelerating in the wrong direction. Instead, we must: 1. Focus on efficiency and conservation, 2. Build only clean energy, and 3. Regulate and price pollution. Anything else is distracting from the core issue. Furthermore, “attribution science” related to the GHG emissions causing dangerous climate change is getting more and more precise. This means that at some point there could be litigation seeking damages for our proportion of the causation of the climate crisis. To continue to subsidize and develop polluting fossil fuel energy is not only unnecessary, but reckless and damaging.”
Émile Boisseau Bouvier, climate policy analyst, Équiterre:
“This report tells us that our governments, and therefore the rest of society, are far from ready to face the astronomical costs that the climate crisis is already causing and will cause in the future. The way we are responding now will make us more vulnerable, less safe and less healthy. So, as we head into provincial and federal budgets in the coming weeks, it’s very troubling to see how the climate crisis is at best relegated to the back burner of discussions, and at worst, outright absent from the discourse.”
Carole Holmes, Co-founder, GASP – Grand(m)others Act To Save The Planet:
“The latest IPCC report highlights how the lack of concerted effort to reduce GHG emissions is plunging the planet further into destruction. Grand(m)others Act To Save The Planet (GASP) urges Canada’s leadership to quit mollycoddling the oil and gas industry. We want to see a concrete plan for a just transition now.
“We abhor the injustice caused by climate inaction. Women and children in low income households and marginalized groups around the world face more climate risk. Storms, floods and droughts have killed 15 times more people in vulnerable countries. We will fight for climate justice for our grandchildren and future generations.”
Cathy Orlando, National Director Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada:
“The latest IPCC report highlights how urgent it is to adapt to the climate emergency while at the same time drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. We can and must create a resilient and equitable world. Lives are being lost.
“Have no doubts there is money to pay for all that we need. Governments must set financial policies that are evidence-based and socially-just including policies for tax reform, funding from multilateral development banks, quantitative easing, climate-risk disclosure rules for financial institutions, carbon pricing, border carbon adjustments and subsidy-reform.
“The war right now in Europe is a wake-up call. We don’t do this work in a vacuum. Stand with Ukraine.”
Lyn Adamson, Co-Chair, ClimateFast:
This report could not lay it out more starkly: we must act now, or face the consequences of devastation of the world both now and in the future. It is a criminal act to accelerate ecocide by continued use and development of fossil fuels, and by any public subsidies for continued reliance on oil, gas, and coal. We must work together putting all our efforts into the renewable energy transition. That is our primary way to avert the dreadful outcomes laid out in this latest IPCC report. Canada must support global efforts in this direction including engaging in the development of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Janis Alton, Co-Chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace:
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace calls out for building peace around the world through action on climate justice. A global green transition is essential to avert crisis as described in the IPCC report, a future that we cannot allow to be the future those who are young now, and vulnerable communities around the world, must live with. We need to shift resources from military spending to human and environmental needs, with a high priority on climate mitigation and adaptation, and a just global climate finance mechanism. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, and must be supported in helping their communities prevent the worst of this crisis, and adapt to current worsening conditions.
Megan Curren, Steering Committee Chair, Climate Caucus:
“The urgency for global transformation could not be more clear: “any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” Our members are committed to deep transformation this decade and this urgency is reflected in our 10-year vision to 2030: One Planet, 10 Years, No One Left Behind (1.10.Zero). We’re encouraged that the latest IPCC report more clearly highlights the interconnectedness of climate pollution, ecosystems and biodiversity, health for all species (including humans), as well as stressing the importance of Indigenous knowledge, global equity and justice. This is not a technological challenge, it is a moral one.”
Fiona Koza, Climate Accountability Strategist, West Coast Environmental Law:
“Normally, we try not to scare people about climate change, but a new major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is so incredibly important that everyone needs to know about it – scariness and all. The report lays out in stark terms the dangers that will be faced by all of humanity if we do not reduce emissions faster, and confirms that the heat wave, wildfires and flooding experienced in BC this past year are just a taste of the still more devastating climate impacts to come.”
Joy Kennedy, Canadian Interfaith Fast For the Climate:
“The call for governments to do the right thing and immediately take action for climate justice is not only a moral and ethical imperative, an economic, social and environmental choice, but is also a matter of our very survival. Many traditions employ the practice of fasting. Now more than ever we need to learn how to fast from fossil fuels. That is the way to address the supply side challenge through a demand side act. If we love this planet – and all life on it – we will accelerate our call for domestic and international fair sharing of the resources we as a global community need to make the transformation that will protect and sustain a habitable future.”
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 more than 130 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
PHOTO CREDIT: Ishan Tankha / Climate Visuals Countdown