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press release

Ecojustice reacts to federal fall economic statement

November 21, 2023

OTTAWA/TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE — Ecojustice climate program director Alan Andrews said that the federal fall economic statement failed to address a key root of the climate crisis, the continued flow of Canadian financial capital invested in fossil fuel development and extraction. Speaking following the release of the fiscal update, Alan Andrews said:

“This year, people across Canada have increasingly felt the impact of the climate crisis. Record breaking wildfires displaced thousands, destroyed homes and businesses and harmed the health of millions of Canadians. This is a real and immediate threat to Canada’s economy.

“Climate change is overwhelmingly caused by burning fossil fuels, yet Canadian banks, insurance firms, and pension funds continue to fund oil, gas, and coal, to the tune of billions of dollars each year.

“After years of delay, the fall economic statement finally signals some positive intent to align Canada’s economy with its climate goals. Crucially, it puts Minister Champagne in the driving seat — he will have a key role to play in setting rules that require large companies to disclose how they are managing climate risk. He will need to ensure that Canada does not fall further behind other leading jurisdictions by laying down minimum standards for climate transition plans.

“It also commits him to reforming Competition Law to crack down on greenwashing and give the Bureau and consumers the power to enforce. We see far too many meaningless climate claims — particularly from the financial and oil and gas sectors — that simply mask a business-as-usual approach to investing in climate wrecking fossil fuels. Canada’s prosperity in the years ahead hinges on its ability to rapidly transition to the new economy.

“Taken together, this is a golden opportunity for Minister Champagne to position Canadian businesses at the front of the global race to net zero and give investors, consumers and regulators the information they need to reward the leaders and punish the laggards.

“However, it is clear that the Minister of Finance has again failed to step up on climate. Canada cannot achieve its climate goals unless its most powerful department contributes. It is time the Prime Minister stepped in to ensure that the cabinet is pulling in the same direction. We need action now to protect the stability and health of our financial system and our shared climate.

“We are pleased to see progress on a green taxonomy after years of delay.  This would help to ensure that capital flows towards real climate solutions. However, independent climate experts need to be at the table to ensure that the fossil fuel industry doesn’t write the rulebook. And effective enforcement will be essential.

“Failing to address the financial forces driving climate chaos directly impacts the lives and livelihoods of everyone in Canada. Not only will people continue to pay the price of worsening climate catastrophes but allowing financial institutions to invest people’s savings and pensions in fossil fuels risks triggering a financial crisis.”