Letter to Morneau: End fossil fuel subsidies

Recognizing that responsibility for phasing out subsidies to the fossil fuel sector is shared by Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna, and Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, CPJ wrote to Minister Morneau to urge him to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, starting by working with his Cabinet colleagues to develop an implementation plan and clear timelines for action.

The oil and gas sector is the largest single contributor to Canada’s GHG emissions, and by extension, the main Canadian driver of climate change. At the G20 summit in 2009, Canada pledged to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term. This commitment was reiterated in the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the 2015 Liberal election platform, and the 2016 North American Leaders’ Summit. While some changes have been made, fossil fuel companies in Canada continue to receive approximately $1.6 billion in federal subsidies every year.

Letter

May 2018

Dear Minister Morneau,

I am writing on behalf of Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) to urge you to put an immediate end to federal subsidies to the fossil fuel sector.

CPJ is a national organization of members inspired by faith to act an understanding that as people of faith we have a responsibility to protect and care for the Earth and all of creation.

Climate change is causing serious human and environmental impacts in Canada and internationally. 

So, for the last two years, during the Christian season of Lent, we have led Give it up for the Earth!, a faith-in-action campaign aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving Canadian climate policy.

Building on significant engagement in 2017, this year’s campaign has seen individuals and families in 150 faith communities across Canada take action to reduce emissions (by cutting meat consumption or divesting from fossil fuels, for example). Many of us have also signed a postcard to Minister McKenna asking for an immediate end to fossil fuel subsidies and strategic investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and skills development. 

We know, however, that she does not work alone. We also know that you were both mandated to “fulfill [Canada’s] G20 commitment and phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.”

I’m sure that you recall that beautiful moment in December 2015, when world leaders – informed by the international scientific community – signed the historic Paris Agreement. Together, they said that all nations must work together to "[hold] the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.” 

Canada’s vocal support for the Paris Agreement has translated into some action. But Canadian emissions haven’t yet decreased. And current federal policies don’t align with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. 

Even modest estimates suggest that the minimum required by the Paris Agreement would see Canada aligning with the IPCC recommended reductions of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Canada's current target translates to only about 14 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.  

The oil and gas sector is the largest single contributor to Canada’s GHG emissions, and by extension, the main Canadian driver of climate change. International reports suggest that even with a full phase-out of coal-powered energy, the continued use of oil and gas in projects currently in operation around the world would cause average global temperatures to exceed 1.5°C.

At the G20 summit in 2009, Canada pledged to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term. This commitment was reiterated in the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the 2015 Liberal election platform, and the 2016 North American Leaders’ Summit.

As individuals and families, we know that the way we spend our money reflects what we deem important. What we buy and where we invest are a reflection of our values and priorities. The same is true of government spending. 

It is time to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. “[I]nefficient subsidies to the fossil fuel sector encourage wasteful consumption, undermine efforts to address climate change, and discourage investment in clean energy sources,” says Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner, Julie Gelfand.

Today, Citizens for Public Justice joins the environmental movement, our partner organization, KAIROS, and the many Christians across the country calling for immediate action to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel sector. At the very least, it is essential that the federal government develop an implementation plan and clear timelines for action.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

(Rev.) James C. Dekker
Chair of the Board

cc Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

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