Canada’s half-measures are not a healthy response to climate change

Over the past week, 50 organizations and close to 800 health professionals in Canada signed on to CAPE’s Earth Day Healthy Recovery statement. Thank you to every single one of you who signed, or who asked your organization to sign, or who passed the email on to colleagues and friends in the health professions. We are very proud of this mobilization.

In our sign-on letter, we asked the Prime Minister to commit to climate targets at the Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day that, if met, would protect the health of today’s children. Many organizations in Canada are in agreement that this target needs to be a minimum of 60% reductions below 2005 levels by 2030 – in fact, our Past President Dr. Courtney Howard participated in a press conference just yesterday at which new modelling was released making the path to this reduction clear.

What we heard from Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday morning was a commitment to at least a 40% emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.

While a small step up from the 36% announced in the budget presentation earlier this week, this is not what we wanted to hear from the Prime Minister. Achieving 40% reductions by 2030 does not constitute our global fair share. It does not enable us to be proud of Canada as a global leader, nor does it set us up to receive the many co-benefits to health that come alongside making the changes that need to be made.

As Dr. Howard said yesterday in a joint press statement:

“Human bodies do not tolerate half-measures in resuscitation–we crash and die. COVID-19 does not tolerate half-measures in its management–cases skyrocket. Similarly, keeping the climate from trespassing across tipping points of no return is not a situation where half-measures constitute a healthy response to climate change. A 40-45% reduction in emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 does not represent Canada’s fair share of emissions reductions. So our job is to over-deliver. Our ambition heading forward must be to push hard, push fast, and not stop until we create the governance frameworks, through a strengthened Bill C-12, the resources, via a reallocation of fossil fuel subsidies, and the political will necessary for us to wake up in 2030 and find that we have done our part in stabilizing the Earth’s climate and providing a healthy future for our children.”

We have seen more ambition from other world leaders. The US and the UK both have higher reductions goals, and both have already reduced emissions. Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world – there is no excuse to fail to commit to our fair share and fail to implement the accountability framework needed to achieve it. This ongoing failure is not a minor issue – it is catastrophic.

We will continue to connect with you about ways to keep the pressure on. In the meantime, we hope you can take a few minutes today to get outside and reflect on the many reasons we work for climate action – our neighbours, our families, the land, the global community.

Read the joint statement by civil society groups >