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Federal Throne Speech could set the stage for a green and just recovery

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Environmental lawyers look for government to deliver on commitments to aggressive climate vision and plan

VANCOUVER, BC, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories – West Coast Environmental Law Association welcomes the federal government’s commitments to climate action, resilience, and an equitable, healthy recovery for Canadians, introduced in today’s Speech from the Throne.

In the speech, Governor General Julie Payette declared climate action a “cornerstone” of the government’s plan to rebuild Canada’s economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans to “build back better” include many positive initiatives including new jobs retrofitting homes and buildings to be more energy-efficient, investments to make communities more resilient to climate impacts, and training programs to support workers and businesses in a clean energy transition. 

“As we rebuild Canada’s economy, the government has a critical opportunity to invest in a green and just recovery – and we can’t afford to miss it,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director & Senior Counsel. “Clearly the government is hearing that Canadians want a sustainable, forward-thinking stimulus package that addresses the climate crisis head on and helps the country transition to a cleaner and more equitable economy.”

In addition to supporting climate-friendly investments, West Coast applauds the government’s renewed commitment to a legislated national goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and to exceed the current, inadequate 2030 climate target. However, the lawyers noted that meeting these goals will require follow-through on the government's previous pledges to legislate 5-year milestones and other accountability measures that were not highlighted today. 

Throughout the summer, Canadians have been calling on the government to take bold action and prioritize a green and just recovery from COVID-19. Through the One Earth One Voice initiative – led by a coalition of environmental groups across the country, including West Coast – over 150,000 letters have been sent to MPs and Ministers demanding a recovery plan that helps protect ecosystems, prioritizes social justice and helps us transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Rebuilding Canada’s economy after COVID-19 and tackling the climate crisis cannot be seen as an either-or choice. Investments to protect the health, safety and livelihoods of Canadians are crucial, but if we don’t address climate change then we are increasingly going to face other threats to our health and safety,” said Anna Johnston, Staff Lawyer.

“The Speech from the Throne contains promising signals, but we won’t know exactly how well it meets the demands for a green and just recovery until the government introduces policies, legislation and a budget to implement its commitments. We look forward to learning more of the details in the weeks and months to come,” said Clogg. 

“One contradiction that cries out to be addressed is how the climate goals set out in the Throne Speech tally with the federal government’s continued support for climate-destructive projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project.”

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For more information, please contact:

Jessica Clogg | Executive Director and Senior Counsel
604-601-2501, jclogg@wcel.org  

Andrew Gage | Staff Lawyer
250-412-9784, agage@wcel.org  

Anna Johnston | Staff Lawyer
604-340-2304, ajohnston@wcel.org