Five ways the Canadian government can stop defending the dirtiest oil in the world, and start defending people and the planet

Last week, the Canadian Youth Delegation submitted a list of five policy demands  to the official Canadian delegation. Here are five ways the Canadian government can stop defending the dirtiest oil in the world, and start defending people and the planet:

We demand that the government stop working on behalf of the oil industry, and start working for us. In order to avoid the devastating effects of climate change, the majority of Canadians demand urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To do so, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest instead in green and just jobs. In addition to an urgent need for meaningful education and community consultation, here are five immediate steps the government needs to take:

1) Stop subsidies to oil and gas companies and redirect money to alternative energy

The federal government currently provides 1.4 billion dollars in subsidies to oil and gas companies per year at the expense of green alternatives. Subsidies drive production and hence lead to more emissions. For example, in terms of tar sands, subsidies are adding 6 per cent to 7 per cent more production and about 12 per cent more emissions. The government should redirect subsidies from fossil fuels to energy efficiency, conservation and renewable alternatives.

2) End new oil and gas developments

Without a dramatic change in policy, the expansion of the tar sands development will single-handedly compromise efforts to mitigate climate change preventing Canada from reaching its 2020 and 2050 commitments. To stop run-away climate change, we need to end our fossil fuel addiction by 2040, and reduce remaining greenhouse gases to near-zero by 2050. To do so, we need a moratorium on new oil and gas developments, as well as the shutting down of tar sands operations. To that end, the government should refuse to allow any new pipelines from being built, including the proposed Keystone pipeline from Alberta to Texas, and the Enbridge pipeline from Alberta to the west coast.

3) Invest in green and just jobs

Oil and gas industries are capital intensive ones that produce a lot of emissions, but little employment for Canadians. Governments can choose people over profit and chip away at a high un-employment rate by investing in public sector jobs. This could include investment in green manufacturing, as well as in the service industry, such as through universal childcare, an essential service for Canadians. The government should also invest in jobs in local food production, which provides employment, can lower the cost of living, and reduces emissions.

4) Reject false solutions such as REDD and World Bank climate financing

At COP 17, Canada must reject the involvement of international financial institutions including the IMF and the World Bank, including in the Green climate fund. These institutions are premised on the endless growth, development paradigm and faulty capitalist model which are at the root cause of climate change and the economic crisis, despite the rhetoric of being solutions to them. Canada must stop carbon colonialism, and instead show leadership on behalf of frontline communities by condemning false solutions like REDD + (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation) that violate the soveiregnty of Indigenous Peoples and their right to Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) to decide on whether or not development projects go ahead on their land.

5) Stop lobbying foreign governments not to reduce emissions and start working with them to come to a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement

Canada has made consistent efforts to defeat clean energy policies in other countries to promote the interests of oil companies, while threatening the lives of people. Instead, Canada must make a drastic shift and work with other countries, including at COP17, to come to fair, ambitious climate policies and legally binding agreements.

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  1. […] (IEI) is the company behind the oil shale operation in the Shfela Basin. Like in Canada, where oil companies are exempt from paying corporate taxes, under the Israeli Petroleum Law, IEI isn’t required to pay taxes […]



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