Toronto, 13 September 2020
reply to: info@justearth.net

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, PC., MP
Minister of Natural Resources
Government of Canada.
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0E4
Dear Minister O’Regan

Thank you for your response, dated August 31, 2020, to our letter of June 5th forwarded to you by the Prime Minister’s Office. We appreciate your detailed account of the government’s approach to both the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

While we applaud targeted funding as it has been provided for the remediation of orphan oil wells and the general intent of the Emission Reduction Fund, there is still an urgent need to accelerate Canada’s commitment to reducing green house gases. As pointed out in The Globe and Mail by Jeffery Jones on August 1st , a peer reviewed study by Stanford University in 2018 rated the Canadian oil industry the fourth most carbon intensive of 50 countries, trailing only Cameroon, Venezuela and Algeria. It was also reported that this study has become the benchmark for European banks focused on ESG (Ethical, Social, Governance) investments.

Mark Carney, former head of both the Bank of Canada and Bank of England and now special advisor to the UN on divestment from fossil fuels and emissions intensive industries has warned that transition away from fossil fuel sources of energy is essential for relevant industries to avoid becoming stranded assets.

As pointed out in the resolution calling for economic recovery through climate action, #3154 now posted on the website for the Liberal Party of Canada (polilib.ca), a minimum of $50 billion should be invested by the Government of Canada over the next five years in energy-efficient buildings, zero-emission vehicles, clean energy generation and other measures to address climate change while stimulating the Canadian economy. (submitted by Rose Dyson on behalf of the University/Rosedale Riding Association) Numerous scientists have warned us that we simply must step up the pace if we are to continue, as a species, to inhabit a livable planet.

Given that the window to prevent the worst effects of climate change is rapidly closing, a post COVID economic recovery must build on a foundation of environmentally sustainable growth. More than a decade ago the United Kingdom created a climate accountability framework under its Climate Change Act(2008). The UK CCA was the first of its kind, remains highly regarded and has served as a model for legislation in other jurisdictions, including Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and New Zealand. We propose a similar climate accountability Act for Canada.

The five basic pillars are as follows:

1: Legislation of GHG Reduction Targets for 2030 and 2050

Such long-term GHG reduction targets would move Canada towards its fair contribution to a 1.5 C mitigation scenario and be set into law. These targets could be strengthened if the expert advisory body (see below) so advised.

2: The Establishment of Five Year Carbon Budgets

Interim statutory five-year carbon budgets are needed at both the national and sub-national (i.e. provincial/territorial) levels. These would cap total GHG emissions, be set in law, and fairly distribute emissions reductions across the country. Such carbon budgets would be recommended by the expert advisory body and provide the basis for mitigation planning.

3: Five Year Climate Change Impact Reports

These reports would assess the national risks of the current and predicted impacts of climate change based on the advice of an expert advisory body and be tabled before Parliament. Such impact reports would be the basis for adaptation planning.

4: Require the Government to Plan, Respond and Act

The Federal government would be statutorily mandated to make plans for achieving carbon budgets and plans for adapting to impacts. Both of these plans would be tabled before Parliament. The government would also be required to table its responses to the expert committee’s progress reports before Parliament. The response would set out how the government would act on the body’s recommendations.

5: An independent arm’s-length expert climate advisory committee drawn from all regions of the country would be established. The committee would:

(1) Advise on long-term targets;

(2) Advise on the five-year carbon budgets and climate impact reports;

(3) Monitor and report on governmental progress towards achieving the five-year carbon budgets, long-term targets, and adaptation plans; and

(4) Provide advice to the governments on climate-related policy

The expert committee would be central to the accountability framework and would have a key role in each of the preceding pillars. In the Canadian context, this committee must include Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge holders

We look forward to hearing the Government commit to the timely implementation of a Climate Accountability Act in the upcoming Throne speech. As you will note, we are sending a copy to this letter to the Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Finance to follow up on your own initiative to bring our letter of June 6th to her attention.

Yours truly

Dr. Rose A. Dyson and Joyce Hall
on behalf of Just Earth.

CC: The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, PC, MP
Minister of Finance