Canada must look to address health, economic and environmental crises together, as Canadians show broad support for green and just recovery
OTTAWA — The David Suzuki Foundation welcomes the federal government’s intentions to build a better, more equitable Canada, as indicated in today’s throne speech. This green and just recovery must include action on climate change and protecting nature, while continuing to keep people in Canada safe from COVID-19.
Specific program and spending details are expected later this fall. To set the nation on track for a green and just recovery, the Foundation will look for swift action on the following commitments:
- Establish a more stringent 2030 emissions-reduction target in line with the best available science, and enact climate accountability legislation to help Canada meet its 1.5 C Paris Agreement commitments and achieve net-zero carbon by 2050.
- Provide funding and support for Indigenous nations to play a leadership role in ensuring Canada meets its 2030 land- and water-protection targets, including 25 per cent of land and water by 2025.
- Provide details on the resources and science-based rules needed to ensure the two-billion tree planting and natural infrastructure programs are realistic and truly support climate and nature recovery.
- Establish clear criteria for the Clean Power Fund to ensure investments in climate solutions focus on renewable energy and put us on the path to decarbonization.
- Introduce, by year-end, amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to protect Canadians from toxins and pollution, and recognize the human right to a healthy environment.
- Create a quality-of-life economic framework that recognizes human well-being depends on a healthy environment.
- Build on commitments to reconciliation and addressing systemic racism and environmental injustice, including co-developing and implementing detailed policies and programs with Indigenous nations and BIPOC communities.
“It’s encouraging that today’s speech acknowledged the unique moment we’re in, that emerging from this pandemic, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a better future for all, solving numerous crises at once,” David Suzuki Foundation CEO Stephen Cornish said.
A recent Abacus poll found 65 per cent of Canadians believe the pandemic has “highlighted problems with how the economy and social policies are run in Canada.”
In the week leading up to the speech, a coalition of non-governmental organizations and economists launched the “Green New Bill” ad campaign, designed to show the value of $20, in 10 years, if invested in a green and just recovery. Based on calculations from leading Corporate Knights economists, the $20 becomes $307.85.
“We are still in the midst of a health emergency, and supporting Canadians must remain a top priority,” Cornish said. “But we must also recognize that seizing this opportunity to strengthen climate action, invest in nature and create better, greener jobs is the only way to truly emerge from the pandemic better and stronger than we were before. Environmental recovery means economic recovery.”
Throughout the summer, more than 150,000 people sent letters to their members of Parliament, more than 500 organizations united under the #JustRecovery banner and tens of thousands of people participated in online activities and events advocating for a green and just recovery.
“This major, national, grassroots movement for a green and just recovery from COVID-19 has clearly helped keep key environmental and equity issues at the top of government’s priority list,” Cornish said. “Now government must act on these promises, urgently.”
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