Climate change is a global human rights emergency of unprecedented scale and devastating consequences. Already, half of the world’s population suffers from severe water shortages and diseases linked to climate change are on the rise.
The role of fossil fuels in this emergency is indisputable, prompting dire warnings from experts like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Unless we make drastic and immediate reductions in the use of fossil fuels, the expert panel reports, accelerating climate degradation will expose millions, if not billions more people to food and water shortages. water, deadly heat stress, increasing droughts and other life-threatening disasters.
Canada’s contribution to this crisis must be addressed. We must immediately end our funding of fossil fuels.
Canada is the third largest oil exporter in the world. According to the most recent data released by Environment Canada, our oil and gas exports in 2019 alone generated a staggering 954 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent, more than the country’s total national emissions that year. Canada may have stabilized its emissions at home, but emissions from our fossil fuel exports jumped more than 46% between 2012 and 2019.
Many Canadians are probably unaware that our status as a global fossil fuel powerhouse is made possible by billions of dollars a year in public funding provided by Canada’s export bank, Export Development Canada (EDC). EDC’s support to the sector averaged $13.6 billion per year between 2018 and 2020, making Canada the largest provider of public fossil fuel financing in the G20.
The federal government pledged last December to “develop a plan” to phase out public funding of fossil fuels, including by Crown corporations like EDC. But there are reasons to fear that the plan has substantial shortcomings.
One indication is Ottawa’s Emissions Reduction Plan, released in March, which calls on the fossil fuel industry to reduce emissions — by 31% below 2005 levels by 2030 — while allowing increase oil and gas production.
Such policy inconsistency is based on the calculation that at least 80% of oil and gas emissions are generated when fuel is burned. This means that Canada can increase oil and gas production for export – and support it with massive sums of public financial support, as seen with the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline – and always seems to respect its climate obligations.
Add to that the government’s controversial new carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) tax credit, decried by hundreds of Canadian climate scientists and academics as a massive new oil and gas subsidy. Ottawa says CCUS projects are exempt from an international pledge it signed at the UN last November to end a small portion of its fossil funding by the end of this year.
Ottawa is defending its funding of CCUS by arguing that there is a market opportunity in positioning Canada as the “cleanest oil and gas producer in the world.” However, being a “clean” producer of a product whose impacts, as Amnesty International reports in “Stop Burning Our Rights”, has little value, jeopardizes the right to water, food , health, housing, work and life of hundreds of millions of people. people.
The alarms are ringing, and they are deafening.
As UN Secretary General António Guterres said so bluntly“The really dangerous radicals are the countries that increase the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic folly.
Canada’s fossil fuel madness must end.