Q&A with Catherine McKenna
Insight Minister Catherine McKenna shares the federal government’s plans for climate action in 2018.
Mediaplanet: How is Canada planning to continue its climate leadership on the global stage this year?
CM: This year, Canada is hosting the 2018 G7. This is an important opportunity for Canada to speak with a strong voice on the international stage, engage G7 counterparts on pressing global challenges, and make real progress on goals we all share. That is why one of the leading themes for Canada's 2018 G7 Presidency is working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy. The Government of Canada will work with its G7 counterparts to support resilience to the consequences if climate change, clean and healthy oceans, and reducing plastic waste, particularly in our oceans.
This is an important year for climate action internationally. Our government is working to help take the next step under the Paris Agreement by agreeing on the international rules that will guide climate action. One of the most tangible steps countries can take towards the Paris commitments is to phase out coal power. Last year, Canada worked with the UK to launch the Powering Past Coal alliance, which now has over 50 members - but Canada is aiming to grow the partnership even more this year.
Leadership on the global stage only works if you're taking action at home. Our government has introduced regulations to phase out traditional coal power in Canada by 2030, which will reduce pollution as much as taking a million cars off the road that year. We have also committed to a task force that will give advice on making this transition a fair one for coal workers and coal communities.
The Government of Canada is also following through on its commitment to put a price on pollution across Canada with federal legislation and a practical approach to protect competitiveness. Provinces and territories have until September 1 to let the Government know of their plan to price pollution in line with the federal benchmark. Four out of five Canadians live in jurisdictions that already have a price on pollution, and those provinces are leading Canada in economic growth today. Pricing pollution across Canada allows us to fight climate change, reduce emissions and support middle class jobs. Another important step to tackle climate change and meet the Paris Agreement target is phasing out traditional coal power by 2030. Canada is also adopting regulations to cut methane emissions from oil and gas by 40 to 45 percent by 2025.
The environment and the economy go hand in hand. Climate action is the right choice for this country's children, but it's also a huge economic opportunity for Canada and the world.
Today, nearly 10 million people working in renewable power worldwide and employment in solar and wind doubling since 2012. Global investment in new renewable power now significantly surpasses those in new traditional coal-fired electricity, and clean growth represents an opportunity worth trillions of dollars.
MP: What actions are being taken by the federal government to promote the research, and development of clean-technologies in Canada?
CM: The Government is investing over $20 billion in green infrastructure to do things like making our homes and buildings energy efficient, installing more electric vehicle charging stations, and helping northern and Indigenous communities get off diesel. The Government is investing $20 billion to support urban public transit. This helps reduce commute times in cities and increases the use of clean transportation. Over the next 12 years, Canada is phasing traditional coal out of our electricity system, significantly reducing carbon emissions, preventing more than a thousand premature deaths and saving billions in health care costs. The Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund the Government launched last year is designed to get climate solutions deployed in Canadian homes and businesses. Through the Fund, Canada has a total of $1.4 billion to leverage investments in projects that will generate clean growth, reduce emissions, create jobs and support healthier communities. Many of these investments will help make homes and businesses across the country more energy efficient - which saves Canadian money and creates well-paying jobs for our middle class. This month, the Government announced the $500 million Low Carbon Economy Challenge – a competition open to provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities and organizations, businesses, and non-profits to bring their best ideas forward that offer low costs greenhouse gas emissions reductions, encourage energy savings, and create jobs.
MP: What are the Canadian governments plan for conservation in 2018? How is the government working to ensure that Canada's natural heritage is protected going forward?
CM: In Budget 2018, Canada made historic investments of $1.3 billion to protect its nature, parks, and wild spaces. Since the last election, the Government has already increased the protection of coastal waters from one to almost eight per cent, protecting an area of the ocean larger than the state of California. Importantly, many of the areas the Government has protected have been in collaboration with Indigenous communities, including Tallurutiup Imanga, Inuktitut for Lancaster Sound. This is Canada's largest marine protected area, and the Government is protecting it with Inuit peoples. It is also protecting our lands. For example, last summer, the Government of Canada worked wirh BC Environment Minister George Heyman and regional Indigenous leaders, including Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Band, to move forward to create a national park in the south Okanagan. Protecting this natural legacy is critical, and doing it is important for local communities. Parks Canada places are an important part of local economies. They help generate billions of dollars annually, and support roughly 40,000 full-time equivalent jobs from coast to coast to coast. They also contribute some $3.3 billion each year to Canada's GDP. The Government is also investing in the protection of Canada's oceans with the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan. This plan will deliver a world-leading marine safety system for the country's unique context. It will restore and protect the marine ecosystems and habitats using new tools and research, and strengthen partnerships by launching co-management practices with Indigenous communities, including building local emergency response capacity.
MP: What are some of the barriers to climate action in Canada? What areas do we need to work on most in our nation to promote a climate friendly future?
CM: Canadians know that pollution isn't free. We're seeing some of those costs already, in Canada and around the world - with droughts, wildfires, floods, a national Arctic and more extreme weather.
This has a direct impact on our health, our communities and our economy. Canadians see these impacts and they want to see practical action in response.
But transitions are never easy. We're all in this together, and we need to collaborate. That's why the Government worked for a year to reach agreement on a Canada-wide plan for clean growth and climate action, in partnership with the provinces and territories, and working with Indigenous peoples. The plan takes into account what is unique about Canada, and that different regions will face different adjustments. Perhaps more than anything, this requires a commitment to work together. The Government is working hard to on a thoughtful approach that will make real progress at reducing emissions.