Nature Canada

Carbon Pricing, Climate Change, and Ordinary Canadians

Image of Graham SaulOn Monday, May 7th Graham Saul, the Executive Director of Nature Canada testified before the Finance Committee at the House of Commons, who are considering Bill C-74.

Graham remarked that Nature Canada is truly excited about the promise of expending this $1.3 billion prudently over five years to reverse the decline in biodiversity in Canada by establishing and managing protected areas and recovering species at risk. He continued by thanking the Government of Canada, and the 116 members of Parliament that supported the Green Budget Coalition’s recommendation for this historical investment.

During his testimony, Graham touched upon the subject of Greenhouse Gas pollution, and highlighted the impact of inaction – which has seemingly been the status quo since 1992. It was over twenty-six years ago, in May of 1992, that Canada signed the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.

“It has been over twenty-five years since Canada promised to reduce its Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and we’ve barely begun to follow through on that promise.”

Continuing on that thought, Graham noted the promise that was made fourteen years ago, when Prime Minister Paul Martin first announced plans to put a price on GHG pollution by creating a market for emission reductions in all sectors of the economy. “[…] and it never happened.”

Graham Saul, at the House of Commons. Photo by Alex Tétreault.

Graham then moved on to more recent events, or lack thereof, in 2008 when the Conservative Federal Environmental Minister John Baird called carbon trading a “key part” of the government’s new turning the corner plan to reduce GHG emissions, and then, later on that year the Conservative government of Stephen Harper won a minority mandate with a campaign that clearly pledged to develop and implement a cap and trade system for GHG and air pollution. Moving onto 2015, Canadians supported a Liberal election platform that made a clear commitment to put a price on GHG pollution. None of these have happened.

While there was inaction in Government, mother nature wasn’t one to wait. From the devastation caused by two “100 year floods” in Calgary in only eight years, then the forest fires that forced 90,000 people from their homes in Fort McMurray, followed by the forest fires in British-Columbia, the flooding in Gatineau and Ottawa, and the current flooding in New Brunswick – there is no denying that climate change is  probably the biggest global threat to nature and biodiversity in Canada, right now.

During the questions period, Graham highlighted “the fundamental philosophical difference that we have is, do you actually care about that problem?”

He continued on by saying that “If, in fact, everyone around this table does truly care about this problem … then every party around the table has a responsibility to come forward with a plan that reflects the fact that they truly want to try to address it. And in absence of that plan it’s very difficult to come to the conclusion that we do in fact share a concern about this problem.”

After the committee hearing, Graham reiterated two main points. Watch below to hear Nature Canada’s thoughts on the historical investment into nature in Canada, and desired outcome for the

For further media coverage by CBC who highlighted how Graham brought to the committee’s attention that:

“[…] we have a serious problem on our hands. If you actually believe in the science … then you have to draw the conclusion that it would be reckless and irresponsible to continue on the trajectory that we are on today. That it would fundamentally undermine the well-being of our children and that it would cause potentially unprecedented harm to our economy and to future generations,”

As well as in the National Observer, when Graham brought attention to the flooding in New Brunswick, stating that “We need to stop fiddling when places like New Brunswick drown […]”

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