MEDIA RELEASE: Has Canada finally turned the corner on the climate emergency?

MEDIA RELEASE: Has Canada finally turned the corner on the climate emergency?

Has Canada finally turned the corner on the climate emergency?

National climate group reacts to the confidence vote in the House of Commons

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2020,
Media Contact: Cathy Orlando,, 705-929-4043

Sudbury ON:
In a surprise unanimous vote, early this morning the Liberals passed Bill C-4 which mostly addressed the COVID pandemic. This level of cooperation in the House of Commons during the pandemic is refreshing. Could Canada finally turn on a corner on the climate emergency too? Last week was an intense week for the climate emergency in Canada after all.

In addition to the Speech from the Throne (text), there were also the Supreme Court of Canada hearings on the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, Prime Minister Trudeau’s stark warning in his virtual address to the United Nations General Assembly, and a global climate strike spearheaded by youth in the Fridays For Future movement.

“Since September 2010, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada has advocated for a price on carbon pollution with the money returned to the people,” says Cathy Orlando, National Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada. “Thus, we were pleased to hear in the Speech from the Throne that ‘the Government will continue its policy of putting a price on pollution while putting that money back in the pockets of Canadians. It cannot be free to pollute.’”

The Government indicated that ‘they will identify additional ways to tax extreme wealth inequality, including by concluding work to limit the stock option deduction for wealthy individuals at large, established corporations, and addressing corporate tax avoidance by digital giants.’

As one of over 500 signatories of the Just Recovery Principles Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada views the speech as the most progressive speech in a generation. In addition to affirming carbon pricing, there was a promise that ‘climate action would be a cornerstone to create one million new jobs’, a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, and a commitment to not only achieve Canada’s weak climate 2030 targets but exceed them.

However, the new climate targets and plans are not yet law and there are strong headwinds against real climate action in Canada including a pervasive climate disinformation campaign on the science of climate change and carbon pricing.

Even PM Trudeau is worried about what lies ahead. On September 25, 2020, in his virtual address to the United Nations General Assembly, PM Trudeau warned of a ‘climate reckoning’ and urged the shake-up of the global establishment. On that same day, across Canada in  65 cities including Surrey BC, Calgary AB, Dauphin MB, Milton ON, Waterloo ON, Halifax NS, Fredericton NB, and St. John’s NL as well as Canada’s three largest cities, youth, and adults were demanding climate justice.

On September 22 and 23 there were also the hearings in the Supreme Court of Canada on the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.

The climate emergency requires a collective approach yet the premiers of Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan oppose the federal carbon pricing policy which allows for provinces to determine their own carbon pricing policy.  At stake before the Supreme Court of Canada is not just the carbon pricing policy but the federal government’s ability to take strong and urgent national action to reduce carbon emissions and protect the health of Canadians from the dangerous effects of the climate emergency.

A victory, in this case, will ensure the federal government has the legal authority to introduce and implement ambitious climate solutions, such as setting and enforcing more aggressive emissions reduction targets. We await the ruling which is anticipated in a couple of months.

Politicians who oppose evidence-based climate policies should note that youth in Fridays For Future across Canada are watching closely what adults are doing.  They are demanding a just transition and for everyone to unite behind the science.  In Sudbury ON, for example, youth in a Zoom Rally with over 400 students participating,  empowered fellow students to talk to their parents about the climate emergency and ask their parents to think before they vote.

Only when there are deeds, not words, will Canada have finally turned a corner on the climate emergency.  Truly, Canada needs the level of cooperation for the climate emergency by parliamentarians it is currently experiencing for the COVID pandemic.