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Canada’s Take on Climate Change: Where Do We Stand Now? [OPINION]

Many countries do not see climate change as a major threat, while the ongoing crisis continues to have a significant influence on communities -both environmentally and financially. Issues like the Australian and California fires, polluted and warmer waters which harm the fishing industry and water resource availability and melting icebergs continue to impact human lives. These are only a few examples of the many consequences of climate change. In this article, we will discuss two major points. Firstly, we will briefly explain Canada’s plan to tackle climate change. Secondly, we will observe carbon pricing and what part it plays in Canada’s climate change action plan.

Photo credit: Millennial Things Network, Climate Protest Ottawa, 2019

Canada’s Plan To Tackle Climate Change

The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) outlines Canada’s pan to address climate change. It was announced on December 9th, 2016. The target year for the plan to be completed is 2030. Under the Vancouver Declaration, First Ministers are consulting and working with Representatives of Indigenous Peoples on Canada’s climate change action plan. In addition, other parties have also been consulted with such as; NGOs, Canadian businesses, Canadian citizens, the Ministers of Finance, Ministers of the Environment, etc. 

The Pan-Canadian Framework has four main objectives – to meet emission reduction targets, economical growth, build resilience to a changing climate and finally achieve reductions across all sectors of the economy. The goal is for the PCF to be developed in all provinces and territories. Let’s observe two examples in the framework; transportation and electricity. 

To begin, transportation will be expanding the number of zero-emission vehicles on the road. This is favourable for the environment, because it lowers the amount of exhaust gas and waste products exposed in the air. To accomplish this they will first, be using cleaner fuels. Second, they will be updating vehicle emission standards (which will improve the efficiency of vehicles). And finally, there will be a shift from high to low-emitting types of transportation. All three levels of the government are working together to invest in public transit upgrades and opportunities. These upgrades and opportunities will be good for refueling stations and support fuel switching in the rail, aviation, marine and off-road sectors. For electricity, Canada will be reducing its dependency on diesel. This will increase the amount of electricity that is produced by using renewable and low-emitting sources. This  means another cleaner and environmentally-friendly outcome.

Not only will this help fight against the changing climate but also it will hopefully develop significant and long term outcomes for Canadians by the targeted year.  With the help of all three governments, a secondary outcome from the PCF is to grow the economy with new opportunities such as long-term paying jobs.

Climate change denial in Sudbury; Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Lisence 2.0

Carbon Pricing: What Is It and How Does It Fit In With Canada’s Plan?

Simply put, carbon pricing is like setting a fee on greenhouse gas emissions so that factories, industries, and others will stop or decrease their use of carbon emissions. Carbon emissions create air pollution, which is very bad for the environment. That said, carbon pricing is a controversial topic that presents   both advantages and disadvantages.

Putting a feeprice on carbon-based fuels deters companies from using oil, gas and coal and encourages them to rely on renewable energy. By using cleaner solutions, companies can contribute to economic growth and a healthier environment. On the other hand, businesses may look to other countries with lower carbon taxes for their production of oil, gas and coal, and by doing so, they are simply transferring the geographical emission of pollution and not reducing it.

Carbon pricing has become very popular around the world due to climate change being a rapid threat. South Korea, Thailand, China, Côte D’Ivoire, South Africa, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago and many more countries are pursuing this solution. In addition, it is a crucial part in the PCF. The federal carbon pricing system has two roles under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA), adopted June 21st 2018. The first part is a trading system for large industries and the second part is a regulatory charge on fuel. Every province in Canada has its own carbon pricing plan. In Ontario, a charge has been applied to fossil fuels since April 2019. For larger industrial facilities, there has been an output-based pricing system (OBPS) for emissions-intensive trade-exposed (EITE). The OBPS ensures a price incentive for industrial emitters. The goal is to again, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and equally protect against carbon leakage and to increase innovation and competitiveness.

This approach is planned to be reviewed in 2022 to determine any new steps forward.

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