Policy - - Opinion -

On March 27th, Com­mis­sioner for bn­vi­ron­ment and Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, gulie Gelfand, is­sued an his­toric re­port. It was the process more than the sub­ject mat­ter that made it his­toric. For the first time ever, the fed­eral Au­di­tor Gen­eral work­ing with pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial au­di­tor gen­er­als, turned their at­ten­tion to a sin­gle is­sue and pre­pared a co­or­di­nated au­dit.

The is­sue was cli­mate and the au­dit was not en­cour­ag­ing. Canada’s gov­ern­ments are not on track to achieve our cli­mate tar­gets. Mea­sured against Canada’s cur­rent tar­get – 30% be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030 – we are 66 mega tonnes short.

Since the re­port’s re­lease, our Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change has been dis­mis­sive. She claims the re­port does not re­flect our cur­rent re­al­ity; that it is back­ward look­ing. But the fed­eral au­di­tor is only re­port­ing En­vi­ron­ment Canada data when it comes to the gap. We are not on track to hit the 30% be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030 tar­get. The au­dit looks at what is be­ing done in mea­sur­able ways. Only five fed­eral de­part­ments out of 19 fed­eral de­part­ments and agen­cies have even con­ducted a review of the risks to gov­ern­ment as­sets posed by the cli­mate cri­sis.

What makes this even more dis­tress­ing is that the tar­get (30% be­low 2005 by 2030) is not con­sis­tent with the Paris Agree­ment. It is far too weak for Canada to do its fair share of re­duc­ing Green­house Gases (GHG) con­sis­tent with the Paris tar­get — much less to claim global lead­er­ship.

The huge gap is that the Paris Agree­ment is more a frame­work for fu­ture ac­tion than a blue­print to avoid cli­mate disas­ter. The Paris Agree­ment over­ar­ch­ing tar­get is to try to hold global av­er­age tem­per­a­ture in­crease to 1.5 de­grees C above what it was be­fore the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, and, if that goal is missed, to as far be­low 2 de­gree C as pos­si­ble. Ev­ery na­tion within Paris (all na­tions on earth, in­clud­ing the USA) have filed their tar­gets (de­scribed as “NDCs’ – “na­tion­ally de­ter­mined con­tri­bu­tions”) with the UN sec­re­tariat on the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) The UNFCCC was ne­go­ti­ated and signed back in 1992 at the Rio Earth Sum­mit. Ev­ery cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tion since then has been con­ducted within the um­brella of the UNFCCC. Paris dif­fers from Ky­oto in that the tar­gets

in Paris are not part of the text of the agree­ment. Ev­ery na­tion can change the tar­get any time, but only to “ratchet up.”

On the eve of Paris, all the NDCs were re­viewed by the in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific body (the IPCC) and the num­bers were crunched to see how far the cur­rent tar­gets would get us to our goals. The news was not good. The 2015 goals took us to a range well over 2 de­grees and to above 3 de­grees. Clearly, cur­rent tar­gets are in­ad­e­quate.

Min­is­ter McKenna con­firmed that in Paris, de­scrib­ing the 30% be­low 2005 by 2030 left in place by the Harper ad­min­is­tra­tion was weak. She de­scribed it as “the floor” and said we would do bet­ter. But within a year, the floor was the ceil­ing, and the en­tire Pan-Cana­dian Frame­work is built around the Harper tar­get.

And now it is con­firmed we are not on track to meet that tar­get.

Good in­ten­tions are not enough. We need bold cli­mate lead­er­ship.

El­iz­a­beth May is the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Saanich — Gulf Is­lands, Bri­tish Columbia, and Leader of the Green Party of Canada. Con­trib­uted to the Sixth Es­tate – The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are those of the au­thors and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the of­fi­cial pol­icy or po­si­tion of the Sixth Es­tate.


April 12, 2018 Be­fore the Bell host Catherine Clark in con­ver­sa­tion with Julie Gelfand about her re­cent re­port.

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