Just days before the United Nations climate conference begins in Katowice, Poland, a group of experts sent an urgent plea to Justin Trudeau to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or else risk leaving Canada open to the risk of post-2020 economic downturn.
The experts, including Nobel laureates including Timothy Walsh and Paul Rademacher, pointed to a report issued earlier this month by the Bank of Canada forecasting GDP growth in Canada at 2.5 percent in 2019 and 2.9 percent in 2020, well below projected levels under a 2.5-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures and the resulting climate change effects. If international action is not taken in the interim period, the report states, “growth in Canada is threatened by declining competitiveness and productivity, weaker aggregate demand, reduced foreign direct investment and trade” as well as “a sharp increase in energy import costs, and significant costs to households, government and businesses.”
The expert team of experts was created by the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a non-partisan think tank that was founded by Toronto Mayor John Tory in 2013. The group is led by its co-chairs Ed Broadbent, former national leader of the federal NDP and former president of the Broadbent Institute, and Nipissing University geologist Michel Abramowitz.
“This analysis, which will strengthen the scientific basis for the urgency of negotiating a deal that ends climate change and substantially builds on the Paris Agreement, shows how a rising temperature would really hurt our economy — even when future government and policy decisions are taken into account,” said one of the co-chairs, Philippe Couillard, former premier of Quebec.
Other experts signed the letter, which was addressed to the prime minister as well as his four ministers, including Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Energy Minister Amarjeet Sohi, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Among the recommendations made by the experts was to accelerate Canada’s target for 2030, which currently stands at 30 percent below 2005 levels, in order to be in line with economic developments as well as international commitments.
“Both Trudeau and McKenna have said that they consider it insufficient to reduce Canada’s own emissions even by the lower targets set under Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments,” explained President of the Centre for International Governance Innovation and partner in the letter, Arshad Mohammed. “A series of big climate policy announcements would be a very good way of addressing the concerns of the bank. But we need a swift and decisive shift that not only meets our climate goals, but also makes Canadians a better off country by accelerating economic growth and creating jobs.”
In 2016, Trudeau set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, but in the past year, Canada has fallen well short of its annual target. The country’s targets represent only 3 percent of total global emissions.
“If Canada does not step up to the plate in a meaningful way, that will undermine confidence in the commitment of the Canadian economy to working towards a low-carbon, resilient future,” said NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen. “The Conservative and Liberal parties should take note. Unless the prime minister acts, the next election will likely give the NDP a chance to redeem Canadians’ faith in our country.”
Read the rest of the letter here.
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