Submitted by Lesley Hastie
Like the 76 per cent of [polled] Canadians who want governments to do more to mitigate climate change (Ipsos poll, Dec. 2019), I am celebrating the Canadian government’s new legally binding climate action targets. The majority of Canadians believe climate warming is largely man-made, and know that meaningful government action is essential.
However, Canada has missed every climate action target to date. This must not happen again.
Science tells us that the next 10 years is critical if we are to have a hope of keeping global heating below 2⁰C (and hence avoiding irreversible tipping points of accelerating heating feedbacks). For that reason, to make sure we are on target, we should set goals within that 10 year period. Along with organizations such as Ecojustice and the David Suzuki Foundation, I urge the government to establish a legally binding target five years hence, for 2025, and for every five years thereafter. This would allow timely adjustments to make the critical 2030 and 2050 targets a reality.
I also urge the federal government to review its many incentive programs including the $200 million Energy Savings Rebate Program which closed last year as ‘funding has been exhausted’. This program had been making available rebates of up to 25 per cent of the purchase price of energy star appliances, electric vehicle home charging stations, induction stove tops and more. Over 50 per cent of Canada’s emissions come from energy (2018:IPCC).
Some government funding for this and other programs and infrastructure will come from stopping the more than $3.3 billion annual federal subsidies to oil, gas and coal producers (Environmental Defence). Others will come from savings when the economy is transformed, retooled.
As individuals we can also save money, and reduce our carbon footprint too. Transportation accounts for 30 per cent of Canada’s emissions (2018:IPCC) but driving at 100 km an hour instead of 120 km uses 20 per cent less fuel, so saves money and creates 20 per cent less CO2. Reducing energy waste in the home by turning down thermostats in winter, unplugging electronic devices when not in use, washing laundry in cold water all save money and reduce emissions.
Doing nothing about climate change will cost the world economy US$7.9 trillion by 2050 according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, and between $21 to $43 billion a year in Canada. Let’s support our government in meeting its targets to mitigate this most pressing existential threat.
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