Alongside five other interveners, Foundation supports federal government’s right to implement national climate policy in midst of global climate emergency
EDMONTON – The David Suzuki Foundation goes to court today in Edmonton to support the federal government’s right to implement a national climate policy, including pricing carbon pollution from coast to coast.
“Putting a price on carbon pollution is a crucial part of any fair and effective climate plan. And the majority of economists around the world agree,” David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce said.
The Alberta government is opposing a national approach to pricing carbon pollution in court. Its own proposed carbon pricing scheme falls short of the federal standard set for the country. The Foundation and other interveners are supporting the federal government’s argument that Canada needs national action to effectively address the climate crisis.
“There’s no more time for political stunts or delay – we are in the midst of a climate emergency that threatens our children’s future and our rights to life, liberty and freedom,” Bruce said. “Since the Alberta government is doing nowhere near enough to help solve the crisis, we’re forced to go to court.”
Earlier in 2019, the Alberta government presented to the courts an inaccurate picture of its climate record. In response, a seasoned climate policy expert submitted to the court the true figures, highlighting the inadequacy of the province’s approach to reducing emissions in the coming years. The case management judge refused to admit the evidence into the court record, however, saying Alberta would not have enough time – in six weeks – to respond, even though the province itself had requested an expedited timeline for the court proceedings.
“We’re disappointed that the Alberta court rejected this evidence because of the concern that the Alberta government would not have enough time to assess it,” Bruce said. “The province itself pushed for a lightning-fast hearing, while devoting huge resources to the case – including two law firms and its own Department of Justice. The court deserves a complete picture of the facts, so it’s unfortunate that it won’t get it.”
The Foundation has also intervened in court reference cases on the same topic with successful results in Ontario and Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan government has appealed its decision, with that case going to the Supreme Court in March 2020.
“A carbon price makes cleaner technologies such as renewable energy more affordable, while making polluting activities more expensive. It’s a fair, logical and effective market signal,” Bruce said. “It also gives an incentive for all Canadians – businesses, industry and households – to be part of the solution by switching to cleaner technologies or adopting greener practices. We need to stop putting polluters and entrenched interests ahead of our children.”
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Background – carbon pricing in other jurisdictions:
In British Columbia, putting a price on carbon pollution has shrunk emissions while building a more diversified, cleaner economy:
- In the first five years since the B.C. carbon price was introduced (in 2008), B.C.’s consumption of fossil fuels covered by the carbon price decreased by 19 per cent per capita, compared to the rest of the country (source: Sustainable Prosperity).
- Meanwhile, B.C.’s economy outperformed most of Canada.
- During this time, B.C. also attracted twice the national rate of investment in clean energy.
- As the last global financial crisis wreaked havoc on economies worldwide, the B.C. carbon price incentive spurred innovation and clean technology growth for more than 200 companies. The sector had sales of $2.5 billion in 2011 with a 48 per cent increase between 2008 and 2010. It now employs more than 8,400 British Columbians.
- According to KPMG, 78 per cent of those sales were exports. These clean-technology innovations throughout the province have made B.C.’s economy more diverse while making the province a leader in climate change solutions that give us cleaner air, energy-efficient homes and businesses, and healthier communities.
Around the world, the largest economies are shifting to renewable energy:
- Canada joins the ranks of leading nations including the UK, Denmark and Sweden that have a price on carbon and have boosted renewable energy within their borders.
- Seven of the 10 largest economies are pricing carbon to drive innovation and clean energy (source: World Bank).