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Council of Canadians calls on first ministers to “leap” at March 3 summit in Vancouver

Leap Year 2016

The Council of Canadians is looking to the federal and provincial governments to commit to “a 100% clean economy by 2050” at a first minister’s meeting in Vancouver on Thursday March 3.

But the Canadian Press reports, “The federal and Ontario environment ministers say a highly anticipated meeting next month between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers isn’t likely to conclude in a new climate plan for the country. Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Wednesday [Feb. 10] that a pan-Canadian climate strategy is going to take time and next month’s meeting is designed to lay the foundation for that plan. …Trudeau’s promise to convene a first ministers meeting to work out a climate plan within 90 days of December’s Paris climate conference [had] set high expectations.”

The article adds, “[Ontario environment minister Glen] Murray said a meeting two weeks ago of the provincial and territorial environment ministers and McKenna directed officials to spend the next six months establishing a common framework of key elements that all parties agree upon, as well as a list of issues that still need to be resolved. Those unresolved issues, he said, include matters such as trade and capital outflows resulting from climate-change policies and how common carbon pricing can be approached, given the various models already established by provinces including British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.”

The Ontario minister of environment and climate change also stated, “I think the next few years are going to see major progress. We’re not putting up fights. We’re finding solutions to things like pipelines that work for everybody, including Alberta.” The Council of Canadians continues to call on the Ontario government to reject the Energy East pipeline which would spew about 32 million tonnes of carbon pollution upstream (filling the pipeline, oil production) and even more downstream (emissions from burning the oil). We are also critical of the Alberta climate plan that allows for a 40 per cent increase in tar sands production.

The first ministers will be occurring close to International Leap Day on Monday Feb. 29. Naomi Klein recently wrote in The Guardian, “The gap between where we are and where we need to be is so great, and the time so short, that small steps simply will not cut it.” That’s why we need to leap. She adds, “On leap day later this month, there will be meetings, teach-ins and other events across the country, all of them pushing our new government to adopt a holistic approach to the twin crises of climate change and inequality.” For more information on this day of action, please click here.

The Council of Canadians supports the Leap Manifesto, notably these demands:

  • The leap must begin by respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land, starting by fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  • The latest research shows we could get 100% of our electricity from renewable resources within two decades; by 2050 we could have a 100% clean economy. We demand that this shift begin now.

  • No new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. The new iron law of energy development must be: if you wouldn’t want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard.

  • We want training and resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to participate in the clean energy economy.

  • We call for an end to all trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects.

Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue has written Council of Canadians chapters and encouraged them to take action around Feb. 29 by organizing:

  • rallies or pickets outside the offices of premiers or federal ministers

  • film screenings of This Changes Everything

  • panel discussions on the Leap Manifesto

  • teach-ins, cultural events

  • friends and allies to call their Liberal MP to tell them that to not exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius limit they must reject the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines

  • an information table or door-knocking event to promote the Leap Manifesto

  • people to write letters to the editor in support of the 1.5 degree Celsius target and against Energy East and Trans Mountain

The time is now for bold action on the climate and we expect that “leap” from the first ministers when they meet in Vancouver early next month.