With world headed to 3.2 C overheating by 2100, a green recovery from COVID-19 and stronger national climate action are key to safe future

VANCOUVER — Findings from the UN Environment Program’s “2020 Emissions Gap Report” confirm that Canada and the world need to intensify climate action to limit global heating to 2 C (or the aspirational 1.5 C) as set out in the Paris Agreement. Scientists warn that global heating in excess of 2 C would have catastrophic consequences for the ecosystems that support human life.

Released today, the report finds that unless governments dramatically and immediately strengthen efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world could overheat by more than 3 C by end of century.

“We are at a critical moment,” David Suzuki Foundation interim executive director Ian Bruce said. “Hundreds of communities throughout Canada have declared a climate emergency. Canadians know we must move ahead to safeguard our homes and our children’s futures. Governments — national, provincial and municipal — that fail to act decisively in the coming year will deprive younger generations of their right to a safe future. All sectors of society have a role to play in moving Canada toward a climate-safe economy.”

Although the pandemic caused global GHG emissions to drop in 2020, the effect will be minimal (0.01 C by 2050) and emissions are expected to rebound unless governments adopt strong climate policies and green recovery measures, in alignment with net-zero emission goals.

“While the pandemic has greatly intensified the challenges brought on by the climate crisis, it has also proven how quickly Canada can take action when faced with public health crises,” Foundation director general for Quebec and Atlantic Canada Sabaa Khan said. “This should serve as inspiration for the level of ambition needed for the climate emergency, the greatest public health crisis of our time.”

The report also shows a green pandemic recovery would shrink total global emissions predicted by 2030 by about 25 per cent and put the world closer to safer levels aligned with the 2 C warming pathway (or the aspirational 1.5 C).

“We are making big strides in our homes and communities, but we are failing nationally and globally,” Bruce said. “As the UN suggests, governments should pull out all the stops to implement a green recovery and strengthen their pledges before the next climate summit in 2021.”

Canada’s federal government must demonstrate further climate action and accountability by enacting these solutions over the coming months:

  • Table Canada’s updated climate plan to achieve net zero-emissions by 2050 and exceed current 2030 targets in line with the best climate science, including:
    • Implement an effective clean fuel standard
    • Strengthen regulations on methane pollution from the oil and gas sector
    • Alongside investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, require automakers to supply more zero-emission electric cars and trucks to the Canadian market
    • Continue investments in public transit and accelerate deployment of electric buses
    • Transition to a clean power future by accelerating renewable energy and using clean electricity instead of fossil fuels
    • Add to investments in deep building retrofits to improve energy efficiency
    • Maintain a fair and effective carbon-pricing system throughout Canada
  • Update Canada’s 2030 targets to align with climate science and reflect Canada’s fair share of emission reductions needed to avoid global warming in excess of 1.5C
  • Invest in a green recovery to create jobs and spur infrastructure investments throughout Canada, positioning Canada as a leader in the global clean economy
  • Pass robust climate accountability legislation to ensure Canada stays on track to meet emission reduction targets
  • Uphold Indigenous rights and title in Canada
  • Invest in natural infrastructure and nature-based climate solutions that maximize climate and biodiversity benefits while providing cleaner air, cooler cities and healthier communities
  • Protect land and ocean areas that store carbon, restore endangered species and provide Canadians better access to the benefits of time in nature.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829, bglauser@davidsuzuki.org