Letter: Canada at the 2014 UN Climate Summit

On September 23, 2014 United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be hosting a summit on climate change in New York City with leaders from across the globe in government, business, and civil society. He’s set an ambitious agenda, asking attendees to bring bold ideas to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and catalyze political will. Ban has his sights set on December 2015 when a new legal agreement on climate to be approved in Paris.

So far, the Canadian government has not announced that it will be attending the summit, much less indicate that bold policy initiatives are coming.

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 . We also expressed our support for actions already taken by the Canadian government to lower emissions from passenger cars (by 2018) and reduce coal-fired electricity emissions (by 2015).

Read the letter below:

Letter

August 26, 2014

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington St.
Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

We are  writing on behalf of Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) to respectfully ask you to make a major policy announcement early next month concerning an issue of tremendous importance to all Canadians, as well as future generations of Canadians.

That issue is climate change. The venue is the United Nation’s Climate Summit scheduled for September 23 in New York City. The world will be watching – and Canada’s leadership could help set an active agenda for lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at home and abroad.

CPJ is a national organization of members inspired by faith to promote justice in Canadian public policy. We encourage citizens, leaders in society and governments to support policies and practices which reflect God’s call for love, justice, and care for creation. Public justice demands that all people have access to the necessary goods and services to maintain their dignity as human beings. Climate change threatens progress towards this goal. Thus, CPJ strongly supports GHG reduction strategies as a core element of policies designed to make Canada a more fair and prosperous land. We have prepared materials for worship services among the 25 member churches of the Canadian Council of Churches, which will be used across our land on weekend services in September – allowing thousands of Canadians to pray for progress on climate action in New York.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked leaders of governments, businesses and civil society to arrive equipped with “bold pledges” needed to face the climate challenge. Are you, or Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq, planning to accept the Secretary General’s invitation and travel to New York?

Canada signed onto the Copenhagen Accord in December 2009, committing to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. We support government actions taken already to lower emissions from passenger cars (by 2018) and reduce coal-fired electricity emissions (by 2015). Environment Canada notes that Canada is in need of further, urgent action if we hope to reach our stated GHG reduction targets.

CPJ believes that environmental pricing reform is necessary to allow energy prices to better reflect true costs, drive innovation, and ensure a more efficient use of our resources. While CPJ understands that the government opposes economy-wide carbon pricing, we continue to believe that placing a price on GHG pollution is the most effective policy tool for cutting Canada’s emissions. We would be happy to share and discuss with you our thoughts to inform and strengthen Canadian policy in this regard.

Since June 2011, the federal government has promised to announce regulations on the oil and gas industry. The upcoming events in New York offer a wonderful opportunity to follow through and clarify policy in this area. Would your government announce regulations for the oil and gas sector at the UN Summit, make them quickly applicable (by 2016), and ensure by adequate reporting that they are stringent enough to make a significant contribution to Canada’s GHG reduction target?

Commitments to phase out federal subsidies to the fossil fuel and mining sectors were announced in three of the last seven federal budgets. CPJ believes it would be a great opportunity for Canada to announce a definitive end to these subsidies in September.

And would not the Climate Summit serve as a most auspicious venue to announce Canada’s re-dedication to disburse our contribution of $400 million per annum to the UN’s Green Climate Fund?

We hope that you will carefully consider these opportunities for action. Please be assured of our continued prayers as our government carries out its important responsibilities.

Yours sincerely,

Will Postma                                         Joe Gunn

Board Chair                                         Executive Director

Cc   Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the New Democratic Party

Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party

Mario Beaulieu, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party

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