On Feb. 27, 2018, Canada’s Finance Minister, the Honourable Bill Morneau tabled the 2018 Federal Budget.
Unprecedented and at the same time up in the Arctic circle, ice was melting in the dead of winter alarming scientists.
Thus, the big question is: How does Budget 2018 measure-up for climate action?
Firstly it is important to take stock of climate action in Canada recently.
On Jan. 11, 2018, it was announced that Canada’s global ranking on cleantech innovation jumped from seventh in 2014 to fourth in 2017.
On Jan. 15, 2018, the Canadian government announced more details regarding our national carbon pricing policy in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and it is full steam ahead for Canada’s national carbon pricing policy.
We now also now know that the four provinces with carbon pricing policies, Alberta, BC, Ontario, and Quebec outpaced the rest of the country in economic growth in 2017.
Just recently, the province of Manitoba announced its carbon pricing policy – leaving Saskatchewan as the only holdout for enacting a carbon pricing policy in alignment with the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Act.
Despite all these promising announcements Canadians need to know the following:
1. The world is dangerously on track to blow the 1.5 C limit;
2. Canada’s greenhouse gas targets are still the highly insufficient targets of the previous federal government;
3. A recent Environment Canada report found that the gap has grown between Canada’s international commitments and the likely result of its policies to 66 megatonnes — a 50 percent increase in only 18 months.
4. Research published in February 2018 concluded that the next five years will shape sea-level rise for the next 300.
Clearly, we have a lot of work ahead to decarbonize Canada’s economy.
Ending fossil fuel subsidies was a clear and specific promise in the Liberal Government’s 2015 election platform.
There has been some progress in eliminating fossil fuel subsidies in Canada, but more needs to be done.
In May 2017, Canada’s auditor general made it clear that there needs to be an agreement on what constitutes an “inefficient fossil fuel subsidy.”
Fossil fuel subsidies artificially incentive companies to sink costs into infrastructure with dubious prospects.
The costs of orphaned wells, tailing ponds, climate disruptions, and other externalities will be borne by future taxpayers long after fossil fuels have ceased to generate wealth.
Canadians know carbon pollution is costly.
German insurer Munich Re reported in January that globally insurers will have to pay claims of around $135 billion for 2017 for natural catastrophes (many linked to climate change), the most ever, following the spate of hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires in North America.
Election 2019 is just over a year and a half away.
Any candidate wishing to win in the next election should note the Abacus Poll released Feb. 10, 2018.
In this poll, two-thirds of potential Conservative supporters say urgent action on climate change is needed.
Another Abacus poll (November 2017) looked at the role climate change will play at the ballot box in upcoming elections.
It concluded that there is a significant political risk in appearing to be indifferent or lukewarm on the growing public preoccupation with climate change.
This timid budget is a recipe for climate catastrophe.
Recent polls should give this government courage to do more for climate action.
Extending the rising carbon fee to 2030, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and imposing border carbon adjustments will help ensure a strong, diverse and competitive economy inspiring other countries to take Canada’s lead.
Political will is the missing ingredient that will save our climate.
Thus, it will be up to all of us to preserve a climate similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.
– Cathy Orlando is national director for Citizens’ Climate Lobby-Canada. She lives in Sudbury, Ontario.