The climate crisis is the greatest threat facing humanity. Floods, ice storms, and droughts are increasing. Our planet is heating up because of human-caused carbon pollution, and it’s putting our water, food and health at risk. We can solve this, but we need to act now.
To avoid dangerous levels of climate change, we need to completely phase-out polluting fossil fuels and reduce our carbon pollution to zero by mid-century. That means saying no to dirty fossil fuels and yes to modern, clean energy. It means building a thriving clean economy.
Capping Tar Sands Pollution
The tar sands are the fastest growing source of carbon pollution in Canada and a massive barrier to meaningful climate action. We’re working to cap their expansion, raise awareness about how these projects are damaging water, air, soil, wildlife, communities and Indigenous lands, and working with others to find ways to stop and eventually repair the damage.
Building a Clean Economy
We don’t need to choose between the environment and the economy. Reducing carbon pollution will lead to cleaner air, improved public health, new jobs, and exciting opportunities for Canadian companies as the world moves to a clean economy.
Stopping the Energy East Pipeline
The Energy East Pipeline is the largest pipeline plan in North America. TransCanada’s plan to pump 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Canada’s East Coast for export is all risk, and no reward for communities and ecosystems across Canada.
SOLVING CANADA’S METHANE PROBLEM
New research shows that methane emissions from Canadian oil and gas operations are much higher than previously thought. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with significant environmental and health effects. Canada needs strong regulations to reduce harmful methane leaks by oil and gas companies and eliminate them completely by 2030.
Here is some of the progress we’ve been a part of to reduce carbon emissions and build a clean economy:
We co-founded Blue Green Canada, an alliance between labour unions, environmental and civil society organizations that advocates for working people and the environment by promoting solutions to environmental issues that have positive employment and economic impacts.
Ontario has a thriving renewable energy industry thanks to the Green Energy Act, which provides incentives for small and large producers to invest in wind and solar projects, encouraging job growth in the province.
Line 9 is an aging oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Inc. that runs through some of the most densely populated parts of Canada. Enbridge wanted to use the line to ship heavy crude, including tar sands oil. The pipeline was not built for this purpose. We helped thousands of concerned residents speak out against this risky pipeline plan.
The easiest way to cut carbon emissions is to use less energy. Ontario’s Conservation First principle prioritizes programs that can cut current and future energy usage even as the province’s population grows. Environmental Defence was a driving force in securing this initiative.
The expansion of the tar sands is far from inevitable. In 2014, several projects were shelved, including: Statoil’s Corner project, Total’s Joslyn mine and Shell’s Pierre River mine. We helped call attention to the challenges of extracting this high-cost, high carbon oil.
Ontario’s phase out of burning coal for electricity was the single largest initiative to cut in greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and dramatically reduced the number of smog days to almost none, allowing Ontarians to breathe fresher air.
President Obama took a stand and said he would not approve the Keystone XL pipeline project if it impacted the climate. In late 2015, he followed through and rejected TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
After massive opposition from Quebec residents and people across Canada, TransCanada was forced to cancel its planned Energy East export terminal in Cacouna, QC on the St. Lawrence River. The massive oil tanker terminal would have threatened endangered Beluga whales.
In April 2015, more than 25,000 people from across Canada gathered in Quebec City to demand government action on climate. Environmental Defence helped thousands of concerned Ontario residents attend one of the largest climate marches in the country’s history.
In April of 2015 we helped unite a group of nearly 90 organizations including prominent Ontario businesses, industry associations, labour unions, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, health charities, and environmental groups. The alliance formed to support the Ontario government’s commitment to develop a climate change strategy and put a price on carbon.
The new Alberta government laid out a game-changing climate action plan. In addition to an economy-wide price on carbon, phasing out coal, and spurring renewables, the plan included a cap on tar sands emissions. We supported this plan as it is clear that for Canada to meet any meaningful carbon reduction target, a cap on tar sands emissions is essential.
At the U.N. climate summit in Paris, Canada supported a global agreement to limit global warming to 1.5. degrees. Canada must now strengthen its own emissions reduction commitment to keep that international obligation and to ensure a safe climate future. We’re working to ensure Canada turns its strong words in Paris into climate actions at home.
Ontario’s commitment to address climate change and cut carbon is outlined in its Climate Change Strategy. A key component is the introduction of a cap-and-trade system starting in 2017 that will reduce carbon emissions and generate funds for complementary actions, like more residential solar panels, which will further cut emissions.
In March 2016, we cheered when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial and territorial premiers came to an unprecedented agreement in Vancouver: that Canada would ratify the Paris Agreement, sign up to legally-binding carbon reduction targets, and that the federal governments and provinces would together develop a pan-Canadian climate framework that included carbon pricing.
In May 2016, Ontario passed Bill 172, which enshrines the province's climate targets in law and puts in place a cap-and-trade program to put a price on carbon pollution. The legislation commits Ontario to reinvesting revenues from cap-and-trade in complementary actions to cut carbon emissions – a key element that Environmental Defence called for.
In June 2016, Ontario announced a comprehensive plan to cut carbon emissions from transportation, buildings, industry, electricity, agriculture and waste and create jobs and business opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Environmental Defence provided insight and expertise in the development of this plan.
In June 2016, the Alberta government appointed an oil sands advisory board to provide advice to government on the implementation of the oil sands emission cap and to address issues related to reducing the impact of oil sands extraction on air, land, water and biodiversity. Our Executive Director Tim Gray is one of 15 members on the advisory board.
In fall 2016, the National Energy Board review of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline was suspended indefinitely after review panel members recused themselves over a perceived conflict of interest. We're calling on the review to be cancelled and restarted only when the broken pipeline review process is overhauled.
In October 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that all provinces and territories must implement an escalating carbon price by 2018, or the federal government will step in and implement one. Environmental Defence was widely quoted in media, explaining that a pan-Canadian price on carbon is an important element of a climate change strategy, one that signals to polluters that the atmosphere can no longer be used as a free dumping ground.
With the European Union ratifying the Paris Agreement in October 2016, the accord will become international law less than a year after it was agreed to in December 2015. Countries, including Canada, now must step up with more ambitious pledges to ensure the agreement’s long-term goals are achieved. Environmental Defence will continue to urge Canada to step up to become a climate leader.
Tailings ponds a growing liability for Albertans
More than a trillion litres. That’s the total volume of liquid tailings that has been created by the tar sands industry in Alberta.[caption id="attachment_12999" align="aligncenter"...Learn More
A Second Success - Ontario's Cap and Trade Makes the Grade
The results are in, and Ontario’s latest cap-and-trade auction was another resounding success. Ontario businesses yet again showed confidence in Ontario’s system, purchasing 100% percent...Learn More
Our rivers are at risk from tar sands oil pipelines
I know it’s a cliché but our rivers are the lifeblood of our existence. It’s not possible to over-emphasize the ecological, historical, cultural, and economic...Learn More
Why electric vehicles will rule the world
This is a guest blog by Michael Brigham, president and co-founder of SolarShare, Canada’s leading renewable energy co-operative. I have been involved in the renewable energy field...Learn More
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Big problems require big solutions, and all of us can help make the changes we want to see. By signing petitions and attending events, you can make your voice heard and help to affect change.
Petition: Tell the Canadian government to stop giving government money to fossil fuel companies
take action now.
Petition: Tell our elected federal officials to reject the risky Energy East pipeline
take action now.
Petition: Tell Ontario to commit to 100% renewable energy
take action now.
Petition: Tell Canada to stop methane leaks from oil and gas operations
take action now.
"As parents, we all want the very best for our children. Climate change is a great threat to their wellbeing and ours. For the sake of our children, we all have a part to do and we need to act fast."
-Hattie Wei, Toronto
MEET THE TEAM
At Environmental Defence, we educate the public about a host of environmental issues, work with business and government leaders to advise on policy decisions and mobilize Canadians to create the cleaner, greener more prosperous country we’re striving for. Meet the team who works on Climate and Clean Economy.
Join The Community
Change happens when people like you express your concern and make your voice heard. Join our online community of folks concerned about our changing climate. Join us in working to build a clean economy. We will send you a quarterly update on our campaigns, invitations to join us at events and opportunities for you to take action.