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 at the 2014 UN Climate Summit

August 2014
Read the letter
One month ahead of the 2014 Climate Summit, CPJ wrote to Prime Minster Stephen Harper asking him to attend the summit and present new ideas that will effectively tackle climate change, such as promised regulations on the oil and gas sector or Canada's contribution of $400 million annually to the UN’s Green Climate Fund​

Budgeting for the Common Good: 2014 pre-budget submission

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
In this year's pre-budget submission to the federal government's Finance Committee, we focus on the Working Income Tax Benefit, oil and gas regulations, and tax cuts and credits that work against the common good of all people in Canada.

Budget 2013: Fulfilling our Collective Responsibility

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
August 2013
Download the brief 
While CPJ has publicly raised questions about the integrity of the pre-budget consultation process, we believe that now, more than ever, the voice of public justice needs to be heard in Ottawa, and that continued engagement with our elected officials is a far better choice than disengagement or apathy.

Budget 2011: Building a Sustainable Recovery for All

Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
Too many Canadians are still waiting to experience recovery and risk being permanently left behind. CPJ believes that the best way of achieving a sustainable economic recovery is to ensure that all Canadians are able to participate in the economy. 

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