Climate lobby group forges ahead online during COVID-19

Citizens Climate Lobby Canada

MINDEMOYA – On Monday, May 11, Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) brought Canadian and international climate experts together in a wide-ranging virtual conference watched live by more than 100 CCL members from seven provinces, including representatives from Manitoulin Island. It was also viewed more than 100 times online in the first 48 hours of posting.

“Last week, Citizens Climate Lobby Canada, an organization I just joined, held an online conference to help prepare citizen advocates to lobby their MPs for improvements in Canada’s carbon pricing policy over the next four weeks,” said Jan McQuay, of Mindemoya. “With the pandemic, I believe people realize how important it is to pay attention to our epidemiologists, and it is equally important to pay attention to our climatologists. If the world after the pandemic looks like the world before the pandemic, we will be heading straight for runaway climate change.” 

This year’s CCL conference covered a wide range of subjects including perspectives on legislating climate accountability in Canada; insights gained from international climate lawsuits and carbon pricing initiatives around the world; how to build a better future faster; learnings from international CCL chapters; and training for new CCL members. CCL members will now go on to lobby their parliamentarians via video and teleconferencing calls.

“Canada has shown smart, economically efficient leadership by putting in place a federal carbon pricing policy that directly benefits Canadian households. This model can be emulated by other nations to strengthen their own economic futures. As it stands, Canada is racing ahead,” said Joe Robertson, global strategy director, CCL.

Keynote speaker Jason Dion, mitigation director of the Canadian Institute of Climate Choices, a new national research institute with a mandate to bring clarity to Canada’s climate choices, shared his perspective on how to legislate climate accountability. This was timely because one of the lobbying requests of CCL Canada is the legislation of science-based GHG targets. At the end of his presentation, he acknowledged CCL Canada for its advocacy of the carbon fee and dividend policy: “You folks were saying it early and often and should take some credit for where we are today.”

The conference also discussed how to build a better future for Canada. Celine Bak, president of Analytica Advisors, with the help of CCL volunteers Marlo Firme, discussed a proposed 10-year phased-in program for thermally retrofitting and electrifying 60 percent of Canadian dwellings which she forecast would reduce GHG emissions by 45 percent and save billions in annual fuel and electricity costs.

Dr. Dianne Saxe, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), and now president of Saxe Facts, outlined examples of climate lawsuits being held around the world and shared the helpful insight that even lawsuits that are not ultimately successful, can be instrumental in incenting positive change. “What’s really pivotal is that the fossil fuel industries are becoming less profitable for investors…and litigation risk is a contributing factor,” she said.

Dr. Saxe was followed by Ecojustice Lawyer Danielle Gallant, who discussed a current case brought by seven young climate leaders against the Ontario government for weakening Ontario’s climate targets and violating their Charter rights; Mathur et. al. v. Her Majesty in Right of Ontario. The latest data for Canada show that greenhouse gas emission rose in 2018 by 15 megatonnes, with 10 megatonnes coming from Ontario.

Citizens Climate Lobby Canada is committed to advocating for carbon pricing improvements and building political will locally for the need to address climate change. Its members have been building political will for a livable world in Canada since September 2010.

Ms. McQuay pointed out that she and Barb Erskine of Kagawong, “hope to meet with MP Carol Hughes, virtually of course, to discuss how we can make Canada’s carbon pricing policy better. Personally, I would start by renaming it, ‘cash-back carbon pricing,’ instead of ‘carbon tax and rebate’.”