Fed up with environmental laws that allow a project to go forward even if it poses unacceptable risks to our communities, ecosystems and climate? This fall is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a world-leading set of protections for our land, air and water, and put in place a robust review process for energy and industrial projects. You can make your voice heard by attending a panel presentation and public workshop near you this fall!
Despite lofty promises on climate change, reform of industrial and energy project reviews, and community and Indigenous consultation, the federal government is approving projects that put our environment at risk. It’s clear that Canada’s environmental laws, regulations and review processes need a reboot.
The federal government is undertaking a Review of Environmental Assessment Processes and holding a series of panel presentations and public workshops across the country. Our allies at West Coast Environmental Law hosted a summit earlier this year that brought together environmental assessment (EA) experts, academics, lawyers and practitioners. They developed key components of a “next generation” EA law that protects our communities, water, wildlife and climate while speeding up Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Read their full report here.
You can make your voice heard by telling the government you want world-leading environmental laws and review processes. Here are some key recommendations for you to consider:
- Put in place a climate test that ensures all energy and industrial projects and policies are in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and Canada’s commitment to work to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Enshrine in legislation meaningful public participation at all levels and stages of EA that makes information transparent and accessible to the public, gives communities genuine agency to influence outcomes and appeal decisions, and encourages decisions based on clear scientific criteria, processes and rules rather than politics.
- Require EAs to consider a range of alternative scenarios to a project that might be more sustainable. This includes the option of simply saying “no” to a project if it cannot adequately mitigate environmental impacts or meet Canada’s climate test.
- Secure the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples for projects affecting their traditional lands and include them in all stages of the planning, evaluation and decision-making process.
- Put sustainability at the core of all EAs by evaluating the cumulative effects of a project and ensuring the entire region’s long-term environmental health and social values are protected.
The last couple weeks showed a willingness by the federal government to approve high-carbon, environmentally destructive projects that jeopardize Canada’s climate commitments and lack community and Indigenous support.
The federal government is championing the Paris Climate Agreement that strives to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It promised to restore public confidence in the environmental assessments and review processes for major energy and industrial projects. And it prioritized reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples by promising to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which include the right to free, prior and informed consent for projects on their traditional territories.
But then the government announced it would stick with the previous government’s weak greenhouse gas targets, nowhere near adequate for Canada to do its fair share to tackle climate change. It approved the Pacific Northwest LNG project, which if built will become one of the largest single emitters in the country. And it is rumoured to be planning the approval of Kinder Morgan’s 900,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.
Is this what the government had in mind when they promised to restore our environmental review processes and protect our land, air and water? That’s not what Canadians voted for.
It’s time to update our environmental laws to protect our communities, ecosystems and climate while we speed up Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy.