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Trudeau needs to act on the climate prior to the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 7-8

Trudeau at the G20 summit in China, September 2016.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to take action on the climate in the lead-up to the G20 summit in Hamburg this coming July 7-8.

The Globe and Mail’s energy reporter Shawn McCarthy writes, “Globe crude demand will have to decline by 40 per cent over the next 25 years if the world is going to succeed in keeping average temperatures from increasing by more than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report released Monday.”

The IEA and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report was prepared to help foster discussion at the G20 summit.

The IEA/IRENA report also says carbon dioxide emissions would need to peak by 2020 and fall by more than 70 per cent from today’s levels by 2050.

The report highlights that meeting climate commitments in the United Nations climate agreement reached in Paris would require “an ambitious set of policy measures, including the rapid phase out of fossil fuel subsidies; [carbon] prices rising to unprecedented levels; extensive energy market reforms, and stringent low-carbon and energy-efficiency mandates.” The agencies also say Canada has “rather conservative policy ambitions” when it comes to supporting renewable-energy deployment.

Pipeline approvals

In January 2017, Canadian crude oil exports to the United States reached 3.4 million barrels a day. Adding to this, the Trudeau government has now approved the 760,000 barrel per day Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, backs the 830,000 barrel per day TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline to Texas, and still remains open to the 1.1 million barrel per day TransCanada Energy East pipeline.

The Council of Canadians is calling for a 100 per cent clean energy economy by 2050.

Fossil fuel subsidies

We also call for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies. Canada promised to phase out these subsidies along with other G20 countries in 2009. The Trudeau government recommitted to this pledge at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China in September 2016.

In its 2015 report, Oil Change International and Overseas Development Institute found Canada provides $1.8 billion in federal subsidies yearly to fossil fuel producers. Further, Export Development Canada, owned by our government, provides as much as $6 billion yearly to energy producers.

Despite the Liberal election promise in October 2015 to “fulfill our G20 commitment and phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term”, by March 2016 and their first budget the Liberals said it wasn’t the time to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

Carbon pricing

In October 2016, Trudeau announced a charge of $10 per tonne of carbon starting in 2018 which would increase by $10 each year until it reaches $50 a tonne in 2022. CBC has reported, “Simon Fraser University economist Mark Jaccard said the price on carbon would have to rise to $200 per tonne by 2030 to meet [the commitment Trudeau made at the Paris climate summit to lower emissions by 30 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030], if Canada relied on emissions pricing alone.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “I’m critical of carbon tax because I think we need better regulation. I worry about market solutions for structural problems.”