Policy Statements: Ecological Justice

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Want to understand how Christian values can translate into responsible climate change policy?

CPJ’s ecological justice and climate change positions are rooted in an understanding that our economy, ecology, and society are interdependent.

Canada's Current Action on Climate Change: In December 2015, the federal government reaffirmed Canada's emissions reduction target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Since then, federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments have met to begin work on a national climate action plan. This plan will be finalized in fall 2016 and implemented in early 2017. Canada signed on to the 2015 Paris Agreement but has not developed the domestic policies needed to ratify the agreement. 

As Canadians of faith we have a responsibility to protect the earth and care for and all of creation. 

CPJ is calling for the creation of a pan-Canadian framework on climate change that clearly establishes the federal leadership role and builds on the principles of the Paris Agreement to:

Establish a responsible emissions reduction target

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the earth’s temperature must not rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. For the protection of least developed nations and small island states, this warming must be limited to just 1.5°C, a limit which was endorsed by Minister McKenna at Paris climate negotiations in December 2015.

Scientists have used modeling to estimate the amount of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) we can emit under 1.5 or 2°C of warming. Now policy-makers must help our societies set ambition, and "budget" these emissions carefully and wisely. To maintain a safe operating space for humanity, we must "decarbonize" our economies by 2050 at the latest.

Canada should establish a new emissions reduction target that takes scientific estimates of the global GHG budget seriously, and contributes equitably towards a 1.5°C limit on global warming.

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Put a price on carbon

Carbon pricing internalizes many of the environmental and societal costs related to the production and consumption of carbon intensive goods and services, so that industry and individuals become cognizant of the fossil fuels they use and have a financial incentive to lower their carbon emissions.

Canada should put a strong and predictable price on carbon of at least $30/tonne CO2 (eq), with planned regular increases to at least $160 by 2030. This increase over time will allow energy prices to better reflect true costs, drive sustainable innovation, and ensure that both industry and consumers make more efficient use of our resources.

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End subsidies to the fossil fuel industry

Currently, the federal government provides over $1 billion annual subsidies and special tax breaks to the Canadian fossil fuel industry that, contrary to our stated climate change goals, encourage the exploration, development, refining, and export of oil, coal, and gas.

The federal government should follow-through on its repeated promise to phase-out these subsidies, and it should do this immediately.

The resulting increases in federal revenue from these initiatives should be used to make investments in people (i.e. job creation, education, and removing barriers to workplace entry), an initiative that will lead to economic recovery and growth, and enhance the common good.

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Regulate the oil & gas sector

Currently, GHG emissions are being addressed through a sector-by-sector regulatory approach. By 2018, heavy duty vehicle emissions will be substantially reduced to meet North American standards, and by 2025, passenger vehicles and light trucks will emit about half as many GHGs as 2008 models. But the oil and gas sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of Canada’s GHG emissions. Given the massive proposed expansions of the Athabasca oil sands activities, this percentage can only be expected to rise. This leaves Canada in need of urgent action if we hope to reach our stated GHG reduction targets.

Canada needs strict GHG emissions standards applicable across the entire oil and gas sector, without exception for subsectors such as the oil sands. Given that the oil and gas sector is the largest and fastest growing source of emissions in Canada, it requires effective regulation immediately.

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Develop a low-carbon economy

The federal government has expressed a clear intent to invest in depleted infrastructure across the country, and it has the opportunity to do so in a way that meets the service needs of communities, while simultaneously addressing economic and environmental challenges. Research by the Green Economy Network indicates that “by investing up to 5% of the annual federal budget in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and public transportation, over five years Canada could create one million new jobs while reducing our annual greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 35%.”

Canada should increase investments in cleaner energy alternatives like wind and solar power. If, as recommended above, Canada were to phase-out the over $1 billion in annual fossil fuel subsidies, we could re-direct this money to a “green” job strategy that would create thousands of new jobs and promote environmental responsibility.

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Provide justice for those most directly impacted by climate change

Along with the reduction and prevention of GHG emissions, which is known as climate change “mitigation,” the fight against climate change must also include “adaptation” to the impacts of climate change that have already, and will continue to, challenge life. Climate change most negatively affects those who are already socially and economically marginalized--especially those in the Global South and the Far North.

Domestically, Canada should support the development of infrastructure and communities that are resilient to a changing climate, especially in northern and coastal areas.

As a developed nation with historical responsibility for emissions that have contributed to current climate change trends, Canada has a responsibility to help fund adaptation and sustainable development in less developed nations that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Canada should allocate generous funding for climate adaptation efforts abroad.

Learn more:

Letter: Canada should phase out fossil fuel subsidies

December 2017
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CPJ joined our partners from the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Environmental Defence, Oil Change International, Équiterre, the Climate Action Network Canada, and others to write a letter calling on Canada to take action on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. The letter was addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, and Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne.

With Canada taking on the G7 Presidency in 2018, now is the time to commit to end federal fossil fuel subsidies.

Beyond Productivity: Promoting the Well-being of Canadians

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
August 2017
Download the brief (PDF)

Focusing the budget discussion narrowly on productivity and competitiveness diminishes Canadians to our economic “value” as workers. This framework fails to account for personal fulfilment, community well-being, and ecological integrity. And, it ignores the importance and benefits of connection, culture, and creativity. Drawing on CPJ’s recent submissions to consultations on climate change, housing, and poverty reduction, and our work on refugees, CPJ hase developed a number of recommendations for Budget 2018 focused on human and ecological flourishing.

Climate Action Plan Needs Transparency

October 2016
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Along with 27 other environmental and faith organizations, and community leaders from across Canada, CPJ has called on Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna to include the voices of Canadians in the federal government's Climate Action Plan.

Delivering the Promise of Justice

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
August 2016
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CPJ believes that the Government of Canada must act on its commitments and develop policy that is grounded in the common good. We encourage the government to take a holistic perspective in the preparation of Budget 2017 – one that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable in Canadian society and contributes to the well-being of both people and the planet. 

A Public Justice Vision for Canada's Climate Action Plan

Submission to Environment and Climate Change Canada
June 2016

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CPJ is calling for a Canadian climate action plan that establishes a new emissions reduction target based on scientific estimates of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions budget, and contributes equitably towards the 1.5°C limit on global warming aspired to in the Paris Agreement. To achieve this target, CPJ calling for the implementation of clear, quantifiable, time-bound measures to (1) reduce GHG emissions, (2) develop a low-carbon economy, and (3) provide justice for those most directly impacted by climate change.

Making Real Change for the Common Good

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
February 2016
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CPJ believes that the federal government has a moral commitment to develop policy that is grounded in the common good, giving priority to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in Canadian society and for ensuring that Canada contributes to the well-being of people and the planet.

Faith Communities in Canada Speak Out

On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada

September 2015
Read the Statement
In conjunction with the United Nations Sustainable Development summit, Canadian faith leaders have called for climate justice in Canada—for all Canadians, and for the world. “On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada” addresses ecological justice, poverty in Canada, and Indigenous rights.

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