All residents of Canada have the right to expect prompt action by current and future governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to the point where they meet or exceed Canada’s internationally adopted targets. So says the ‘Canadian Charter of Climate Change Rights and Responsibilities’ released on January 20, 2022 by The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR).
The Charter further states that Canadians also have the right to expect real and clearly defined, measurable goals and GHG emission reduction pathways with a built-in ability to modify policy over time if emission reduction targets are not actually being met.
“Progress along chosen pathways must be carefully monitored,” says CACOR Chair Jean Dougherty. “Where progress is slower than anticipated, incentives, penalties, and regulations to limit emissions by law must be utilized as required, rather than allowing failure as Canada has done in the past.”
The Charter calls for adequate funding to meet all required domestic initiatives, and for clear and regular communications to provide accountability and progress reports against greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in all relevant sectors of the Canadian economy.
The Charter also points out that citizens don’t just have rights, they have responsibilities. These include educating themselves about current threats to the environment, participating in constructive ways to arrest the advancement of climate change, and exercising their democratic rights to elect officials who make it a high priority to generate policies that mitigate climate change and create a sustainable planet.
“As citizens, we should strive to take action to reduce demand on fossil fuels and fossil-based products,” says Dougherty. “We should make our homes and modes of transport less dependent on fossil fuels.”
The Charter is accompanied by seven recommendations for immediate action by governments. These include ending all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; ending the use of coal for the production of electricity; enhanced management of forests and agriculture lands to ensure sustainable carbon sinks; developing an ecologically-based bioeconomy strategy; maximizing the electrification of transport, and promoting the sale of electric vehicles; reconsidering nuclear power; reducing GHG emissions from buildings using upgraded building codes and highly efficient heating and cooling systems; and, because current plans may be insufficient for Canada to reach net-zero by 2050, developing contingency plans by which time production and combustion of fossil fuels be phased out within Canada.
“Our intention is to mobilize widespread nationwide support for this Charter and its recommendations,” says Dougherty. “We believe it is aligned with the desires and opinions of the majority of Canadians as reflected in the federal government’s public engagement survey undertaken in March/April 2021, and creates a standard and a legacy by which future governments may be held to account.”