OTTAWA — In the midst of a federal election campaign and on the eve of Earth Day, the top executives of Canada’s major environmental organizations are calling on all political leaders to take concrete and immediate action to address Canada’s urgent environmental challenges.
Promoting economic stability
“There has been much talk about securing our economic future during this election, but Canada’s economy is wholly dependent on our environment,” said Gerald Butts of World Wildlife Fund Canada. “Protecting our environment is essential to ensuring Canada’s economic prosperity.”
Fighting climate change
One of the most serious challenges Canada’s next government will face is fulfilling its international responsibility to significantly reduce greenhouse gas pollution. As one of the world’s 10 worst polluters of greenhouse gas emissions (both overall and per person), Canada’s international reputation as a responsible and clean nation is at risk.
“Despite promises to take climate change seriously, the current government is on track to miss its climate commitments by a long shot,” said Bruce Cox of Greenpeace. “Political leaders will have to demonstrate a clear action plan to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions targets if they intend to improve Canada’s international reputation and ensure Canada does its fair share.”
Investing in renewable energy
Canada has also fallen behind other nations in investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, ignoring opportunities to create good new jobs and sacrificing our competitive edge to maintain business as usual.
“The federal government’s economic stimulus spending for infrastructure could have created nearly three times as many jobs if it had been invested entirely in clean energy,” said Ed Whittingham of the Pembina Institute. “Our kids will have to compete for jobs in the clean energy market, and they will only succeed if our government keeps pace with the investments leading countries are making.”
Creating healthy communities
Healthcare has emerged as a priority issue for Canadians in this election. Political leaders need to recognize that good health starts with minimizing our risk of exposure to toxics and maximizing our access to healthy food.
“Air pollution in our cities is causing asthma and costing us millions in health care expenses,” said Rick Smith of Environmental Defence. “Putting a price on pollution, using energy more efficiently and shifting to cleaner energy sources will save lives and money.”
“Local organic food sources help reduce pollution and eliminate unnecessary pesticides, while government efforts to properly label food can help consumers make healthy choices — for the environment, their communities and themselves,” said Sidney Ribaux of Équiterre.
Protecting public land and water
“Protecting at least half of Canada’s precious public land and water is also vital in keeping the water we drink and the air we breathe pure and fighting climate change,” said Éric Hébert-Daly of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.