greta thunberg

Greta Thunberg calls on Canada to step up on climate change

While the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement are understandably taking up the majority of space in the minds of Canadians right now, we can't forget the other issue that's still as timely and urgent as ever: climate change. 

That's something climate activist Greta Thunberg is actively trying to point out, and she's calling on Canada and Norway specifically to step up their game. 

A letter to small island diplomats released yesterday — signed by Thunberg, three other youth activists and 22 climate and arctic scientists from all over the world — outlines a list of concerns regarding both countries' policies to continue expanding fossil fuel extraction. 

The letter was intentionally released ahead of the UN security council vote in which Canada, Norway and Ireland are all competing for two seats. 

Each country has committed to making climate change a priority, but the letter states that recent policies indicate the opposite and it urges the UN ambassadors of 38 Pacific Small Island Developing States — who know firsthand of the dangerous impacts of climate change and what is at stake if sufficient action isn't taken — to raise these issues in conversations with representatives of the candidate countries and demand that they unite behind the science.

"If Norway and Canada are serious about our climate security, they should commit to no new fossil fuel exploration or extraction, and begin phasing down their domestic production at a pace that is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C," the letter reads.

Its contents outline a host of policies adopted by each country that go against their supposed commitment to climate action, including Canada's 2018 Energy Future Plan, which foresees ​a 60 per cent increase in fossil fuel production by 2030​, and the fact that the country remains way off track in its efforts to meet its Paris emissions  reduction targets.

The climate experts also cite the fact that Canada is the second-largest financier​ of fossil fuels in the G20 (and the highest per capita), as well as the fact that Canada has been providing at least $13.8 billion a year in public finance to the oil and gas sector since the Paris Agreement was signed.

"Export Development Canada - through which much of this oil and gas sector support is channelled  - has even loaned money to a number of domestic oil and gas projects that ​violate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples​ and have enormous carbon footprints, including the government-owned Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline and the Coastal GasLink pipeline," the letter notes.

And according to the experts, the Canadian government has given Export Development Canada a major role in the COVID-19 response through two major financing programs that ​specifically prioritize the fossil fuel industry​.

These programs provide massive loan guarantees to companies, with a priority on the oil and gas sector, and provide credit support specifically for the oil and gas sector without any financial ceiling.

"If Canada is serious about implementing the Paris Agreement, the Government should make the temporary moratorium on Arctic oil and gas extraction permanent, shelve major new oil and gas infrastructure projects like the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL tar sands pipelines, and stop subsidizing the oil and gas industry - including through its Covid-19  bailout funds," argue the signatories of the document.

The candidates running for positions on the UN security council are in competition for a two-year term starting in 2021, and they must win the backing of two thirds of member seats. 

The Pacific Small Island Developing States, to whom the letter is addressed, cumulatively hold 20 per cent of votes.

Lead photo by

Greta Thunberg

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