A Just Transition for Canada: Action to Address the Climate Emergency

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Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations
August 2019

Download the brief (PDF)

Canada’s June 2019 Climate Emergency motion states that “climate change is a real and urgent crisis” and requires that “Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement’s objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) is a faith-based policy organization that believes federal policy can and must serve the public good. Our research, policy analysis, education, and advocacy work are grounded in an understanding of the sacredness of creation and the dignity of all people. From this perspective, the central role of government is to promote the well-being of citizens and residents, and the flourishing of the Earth.

CPJ has long called for the Government of Canada to increase 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). In order to avoid far-reaching, catastrophic consequences, Canada must take ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the next decade.

A complete suite of measures is needed to address the climate crisis and move towards decarbonization by 2050.

The federal government must first implement measures that will meet Canada’s goal of reducing emissions 30 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030. National ambition must then be aligned with no more than 1.5 C over pre-industrial levels.

This path requires investment in a just transition, whereby the weight of change is not borne disproportionately by one group of people. Low-carbon energy development is prioritized, as is funding for skills development and retraining programs for oil and gas workers. A just transition also incorporates a robust Employment Insurance program; it gives protection to the most vulnerable and leads to increased social justice for all.

CPJ wants to ensure that all people in Canada are able to participate fully in society in recognition of their human dignity. This is the real key to flourishing communities. Yet over five million people in Canada live in poverty. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, who are overrepresented among those living in poverty, continue to experience the impacts of colonization, and many communities are already experiencing damaging effects of global warming. Furthermore, as the climate crisis advances around the world, there could be as many as 200 million environmental migrants by the year 2050, some of whom will seek refuge in Canada.

Canada’s just transition must include a culturally-competent and Indigenous-led approach to reducing climate impacts change and addressing the unique needs of Indigenous peoples. Addressing the particular needs of people living in poverty as they face climate-induced extreme weather events is also key. In doing so, it is essential that the government adhere to an intersectional approach to public policy, acknowledging specific steps must be taken to benefit those who face multiple forms of oppression based on any combination of their gender, socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. And finally, Canada must acknowledge responsibility for historic emissions and increase financing for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

CPJ’s recommendations for Budget 2020:

  1. Follow-through on commitments to end inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
  2. Strengthen and expand Canada’s carbon emissions pricing mechanism beyond
    2022 to at least $160/tonne by 2030.
  3. Establish a national just transition that includes a National Decarbonization
    Strategy, a Strategic Training Fund, a Just Transition Transfer.
  4. Invest in measures to ensure equitable resiliency to climate impacts and policies,
    with particular consideration of those especially vulnerable to poverty.
  5. Increase international adaptation and mitigation financing for developing
    countries.
  6. Invest in low-carbon technologies, not high-carbon infrastructure.

Photo by Simon Matzinger is licensed under CC0

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