St. John’s, Newfoundland — The energy strategy released today by provincial premiers is a big step backwards. By lending support to pipelines, the strategy will put Canada further out of step with the rest of the world where climate change is being treated as a serious matter. We in Canada need to come to grips with the fact that it’s practically impossible to grow the tar sands and reduce carbon pollution.
At least one provincial premier was able to remove stronger targets on climate change and include more references to oil. This shows that we need a strong federal partner to fight climate change because this provincial agreement panders to the lowest common denominator.
Falling oil prices, layoffs and this week’s pipeline spill in Alberta – one of the largest in Canadian history – are all reminders of the financial and environmental risks of putting our eggs in the tar sands basket. Wildfires in British Columbia, a severe drought in California and more extreme and unpredictable weather all underscore the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for a meaningful energy strategy to tackle carbon pollution. 
The only way the energy strategy can be salvaged is for provincial energy ministers to focus on strengthening and then implementing the potentially forward-looking parts of the strategy, including:

Committing to significant reductions in carbon pollution from every province, which would mean passing laws and regulations that cap, reduce and put a price on carbon emissions.
 
Focusing on energy transmission that can facilitate and increase the production and trade of renewable energy, such as increasing electricity trade from hydro-rich provinces to those with coal and other polluting power plants.
 
Collaborating on a strong energy efficiency program across provinces.

Provincial and territorial energy ministers have been tasked with implementation of the energy strategy and reporting back at the next premiers’ meeting, in the summer of 2016. All provinces need to recognize that Canadians want climate action. A recent poll showed that the majority of Canadians believe that protecting the climate is more important than building pipelines and expanding the tar sands.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
-30-
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact
Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, 416-570-2878 (cell); ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca