No public consultation, weak targets spell trouble for forthcoming industry climate plan
TORONTO | Traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples, and now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples — Canada’s beleaguered airlines have yet another challenge to face as they work with the Government of Canada to release a new aviation emissions reduction plan this fall. Amid rising greenhouse gas emissions, this plan is seen as critical to bringing Canada’s airlines up to speed with their global competitors and helping tackle the climate crisis.
“After being in and out of lockdowns for two years, people are tired and want vacations,” said Gideon Forman, transportation policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. “We can certainly all do our share to take more planet-friendly holidays, including staying closer to home and making more sustainable travel arrangements. But individuals alone aren’t going to save the planet. We need corporations to step up, and this is the aviation industry’s chance to do just that.”
According to Transport Canada, from 2005 to 2019, GHG emissions in this sector rose from 12.6 million to 22 million tonnes – an increase of almost 75 per cent. Meanwhile, global competitors continue to soar past us in their climate goals.
Denmark and Sweden pledged that all domestic flights would be fossil-fuel free by 2030. Germany’s national carrier pledged to cut net emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 (compared to 20 per cent committed by Air Canada).
“Aside from being good for the planet, being ambitious about reducing emissions is also good for business,” Forman said. “More and more, consumers are factoring in social responsibility when making purchasing decisions. People want to support companies that are doing good — or, at the very least, companies that aren’t doing harm.”
Set to be released during or before the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly in September in Montreal, the new emissions reduction plan is rumoured to have no emissions targets earlier than 2050, and is being planned solely in consultation with the aviation industry.
“We have just a few weeks until Canada’s airlines decide whether they’re going to be leaders or laggards, in both the climate and business sense,” Forman said. “If they wait until 2050 to show real leadership, the world will be passing them by.”
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The David Suzuki Foundation (DavidSuzuki.org | @DavidSuzukiFdn) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, founded in 1990. We operate in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. We collaborate with all people in Canada, including Indigenous leadership and communities, governments, businesses and individuals to find solutions to create a sustainable Canada through scientific research, traditional ecological knowledge, communications and public engagement, and innovative policy and legal solutions. Our mission is to protect nature’s diversity and the well-being of all life, now and for the future. We envision a day where we all act on the understanding that we are one with nature.