Christian climate justice advocates celebrate federal commitment to “deeper [emissions] reductions” in effort to address climate crisis.

There is overwhelming evidence that we face a climate emergency. That the Government of Canada has acknowledged that emergency and committed to additional action, is worthy of celebration.

The climate emergency motion was introduced by Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, on May 13, 2019. It was passed on June 17, 2019 by a vote of 186to 63.

Not only does this motion acknowledge human responsibility for the climate crisis, the disproportionate impact of extreme weather on already marginalized populations, and significant social and economic costs of inaction, it also clearly states that in response, Canada must “commit to meeting its national emissions target” and deepen reductions in line with the Paris Agreement.

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) has long called for the Government of Canada to increase the level of national climate ambition and to align our emissions-reduction target with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and the scientific imperative outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Despite the desperate situation many in Canada are facing as they recover from floods or brace for encroaching forest fires, the government’s decision to name the emergency – and take action to address it – is a good news story.

Unfortunately, the declaration of a national climate emergency may be overshadowed by re-approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

“The key question now,” says CPJ Senior Policy Analyst, Karri Munn-Venn, “is whether there is any scenario in which Canada can dramatically reduce emissions and build a long-term oil pipeline. I’ve taken a look at the emissions numbers, the IPCC timeline, and the experience of Canadians. It doesn’t add up.”

Government accounting reported in January 2019 indicates that even with additional emissions-reduction measures, Canada is on track to exceed our emissions-reduction target by at least 79 megatonnes. Additional Environment and Climate Change Canada analysis reveals that the expanded pipeline would lead to a rise in emissions of 13-15 megatonnes annually. The projected lifecycle of a pipeline is 30 to 40 years. Climate impacts, including negative health impacts and more extreme weather, will almost certainly be exacerbated.

“There is no doubt that we’re in the midst of a climate emergency. I’m thrilled to see this declaration from the federal government,” says Willard Metzger, CPJ Executive Director. “Now, in order to prevent the worst of catastrophic climate change, we must see the reductions they promised; the reductions required to hold global temperatures to 1.5 C over pre-Industrial levels.”

“Ultimately,” concludes Metzger, “This is a question of integrity and accountability. Canadians are feeling the effects of climate change first-hand and need to have confidence that we’re moving in the right direction. This means an economic approach that supports workers and communities through a just transition towards a renewables-based economy that will promote the well-being of all – both now, and well into the future.”

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) is a national organization that promotes public justice in Canada by shaping key policy debates through research and analysis, publishing and public dialogue. CPJ encourages citizens, leaders in society and governments to support policies and practices that reflect God’s call for love, justice and the flourishing of creation. To learn more, or become a member, visit cpj.ca.

For more information, contact Deb Mebude at deb@cpj.ca or 613-232-0275 x. 225.