Toronto, ON – Canada’s Prime Minister has a golden opportunity to show international leadership by committing to a phase out of federal fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. That’s the message delivered to Justin Trudeau by more than 20 civil society groups in an open letter on the eve of the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China.

“Seven years ago, the G20 committed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies – but did so without a firm deadline,” said Dale Marshall, National Climate Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “Our Prime Minister should show global leadership by committing to a 2020 timeline for ending Canada’s annual $1.5 billion fossil fuel subsidies.”

Canada and other G20 countries first made the commitment in 2009 to eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel sectors such as coal, oil, and natural gas. The issue is on the agenda again at this Sunday’s G20 summit. The federal government has made little progress and continues to give more than $1 billion per year to these carbon polluters – in addition to more than one billion dollars in provincial subsidies.

“Our Prime Minister is a good enough canoeist to know you don’t bail water into a sinking boat, but that is exactly what we are doing when we use tax dollars to pay companies to pollute more,” said Keith Stewart, Head of Greenpeace Canada’s Climate and Energy Campaign. “It is time to make polluters pay, not reward them with public funds.”

This week, three of the world’s biggest insurers called for full fossil fuel subsidy phase-out on the same timeline. Institutional investors managing $13 trillion in investments have also urged the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies as one of many climate measures.

“When large insurance companies, major global investors, and environmental groups are all calling for the same thing, it goes without saying that governments should follow suit,” said Steven Guilbeault, Principal Director at Équiterre.

Read the open letter here and the detailed recommendation submitted by Oil Change International, Équiterre, Environmental Defence, Climate Action Network Canada.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (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.

About ÉQUITERRE (equiterre.org): Equiterre helps build a social movement by encouraging individuals, organizations and governments to make ecological and equitable choices, in a spirit of solidarity.

About GREENPEACE (greenpeace.org): Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation using non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Tim Ehlich, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 223; 647-468-3641 (cell); tehlich@environmentaldefence.ca

Dale Roberston, Équiterre, 514-605-2000; drobertson@equiterre.org