Canadian Manufacturing

UN report ‘must sound death knell’ for fossil fuels as Canada faces climate urgency

Canada, along with the United States and Australia, is among the top three biggest carbon-dioxide emitters per capita in the world.

August 9, 2021  The Canadian Press

The secretary-general of the United Nations says a new report “must sound the death knell for coal and fossil fuels,” raising renewed questions about Canada’s climate plan and the long-term viability of its traditional energy sector.

The UN scientific paper says Earth is heating up so quickly due to human activity that temperatures in about a decade will blow past a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent.

Released on Aug. 9, the landmark study amounts to a “‘code red’ for humanity” as increasingly extreme heat waves, droughts, flooding and wildfires threaten the globe, said UN chief Antonio Guterres.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson acknowledged that parts of Western and Northern Canada are warming at three times the global average, with the ramifications playing out in a cycle of floods and wildfires in British Columbia and elsewhere.

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The Liberal government has taken “aggressive climate action” through carbon pricing and a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, he said in a statement.

Amara Possian, Canada campaign director for 350.org, said the report is a “clarion call” that the country’s climate plan falls far short.

“With an election around the corner and climate-fuelled wildfires still raging across this country, the real question is if our politicians are listening and if any of them will step up and be the climate champions that we need,” she said in a statement.

Canada, along with the United States and Australia, is among the top three biggest carbon-dioxide emitters per capita in the world.

Eddy Perez from Climate Action Network said the report shows that limiting global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels is “simply not negotiable.”

“It is the only choice for a safe and healthy future, and it’s still possible. We need to fight to restore our broken relationship with nature and with ourselves; we need to fight back against any delays to urgent climate action.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of letting big polluters off easy, referring to the government’s decision in 2018 to relax proposed carbon-price limits on large emitters.

“That price on pollution exempts the biggest polluters. People are asking, what’s the point of that?” Singh said.

“The only way forward is to make sure workers are the heart of the solution,” he added, citing building retrofits, electric vehicles and public transit.