“The climate crisis poses an enormous threat to biodiversity, global security, and economic well-being around the world. Canada must rapidly reduce carbon emissions and prepare for the impact of a changing climate, and Canadians are clearly demanding that their governments do more to build a sustainable, resilient, low-carbon economy in the twenty-first century.
“The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) plays an important role in raising awareness and challenging the Government to deliver the best possible environmental outcomes. Accordingly, we welcome the five reports tabled today by the Commissioner. The reports examine the Government’s scientific activities in certain bodies of water, its historical record on climate action, progress in implementing its sustainable development strategies, responses to annual environmental petitions, and implementation of its Emissions Reduction Fund program.
“In 2015, Canada’s emissions were on a steep climb, projected to be 12 percent higher in 2030 than they were in 2005, despite Canada’s international commitment to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The Commissioner’s retrospective analysis of Canada’s record on climate action paints a vivid picture of the mammoth undertaking by the Government of Canada in 2016 to slow, stop, and reverse this upward trend of emissions. Work began immediately with the Pan-Canadian Framework in 2016, which was continued through the Strengthened Climate Plan in 2020, and has been carried further with measures announced in Budget 2021 and commitments announced earlier this month at COP26, in Glasgow.
“As the Commissioner’s report notes, the Pan-Canadian Framework and the Strengthened Climate Plan have not yet been audited but are projected to reduce emissions by 31 percent compared to 2005 levels. Measures introduced since then have increased that projection to 36 percent, and-with new proposed commitments-Clean Prosperity Canada has estimated that Canada can achieve a 41 percent reduction in emissions compared with 2005 levels by 2030, in line with Canada’s newly increased target of 40 to 45 percent.
“The impacts of more than one hundred measures are not within the scope of the Commissioner’s retrospective study. Canada’s commitment to addressing climate change includes billions of dollars for home and commercial building retrofits, investments to expedite decarbonization by large emitters and scale up clean technology, pollution pricing, a zero-emission-vehicle sales mandate, and investments in nature-based climate solutions and preserving natural spaces. This is the point the Commissioner hammers home in this retrospective report: By 2015, the time for words had long passed, and real action was required. Since then, the Government of Canada has stepped up.
“We are confident that we’ve put in place the fundamentals, including with one of the world’s most stringent pollution pricing and rebate programs, to take Canada’s climate fight to the next level. Since 2016, the Government of Canada has committed more than $100 billion to address climate change and protect the environment. The Government also passed the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, which enshrines Canada’s national climate goals in law and provides a transparent and accountable process to ensure progress toward those targets, including the ultimate goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, which is what science tells us we must achieve to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
“This month, Canada demonstrated its climate leadership at COP26 by committing to cut and cap its oil-and-gas emissions at a pace and scale needed to reach net zero by 2050. Canada also committed to achieving a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 and an end to thermal coal exports by 2030. To support the global transition off coal-fired electricity, Canada announced up to $1 billion to help developing countries transition from coal to clean power.
“The CESD reports reinforce what we already know: The job isn’t finished, and there is more we must do to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. Indeed, the Commissioner’s ongoing work will help us stay on track as both the Government and CESD provide regular reports on progress through the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.
“We are committed to going further. Building on significant efforts to date and on the global momentum to fight climate change, the Government is focused on achieving its 2030 target-a major stepping stone as Canada heads to net zero in 2050-by taking action aligned with what science says is needed and continuing to implement our commitments.
“We, the ministers of Environment and Climate Change and of Natural Resources, look forward to working with Canadians, experts, and domestic and international partners to go further and faster in driving down emissions, building a truly sustainable economy, and providing a brighter future for all who call this planet home.”