More than 2,400 of you joined the call for an honest conversation about climate change
In recent months we have seen leaders from around the globe take important steps to address climate change, including signing the watershed Paris Agreement. But progress cannot stop there. We know 2015 was the hottest year ever globally, and 2016 is expected to be even hotter. Canada needs to recognize this reality and make deep cuts in our greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous climate change.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that climate change is real and driven by human activity, climate deniers are still polluting the public conversation with their falsehoods, and junk-science. By misconstruing the facts, climate deniers seek to confuse and mislead the public about the causes and severe consequences of climate change.
Happily, many are starting to say enough is enough and are calling out climate deniers in very public ways. The urgency of transitioning to a new, cleaner energy future demands that our public conversation be based on the weight of scientific evidence, not falsehoods and junk-science.
To add to voices calling out deniers, in December we filed an application with the Commissioner of Competition, on behalf of six prominent Canadians, asking for an inquiry into false and misleading representations about climate change science. In addition to these six prominent Canadians, we also sent a list of over 2,400 other signatories who are calling for an inquiry by the Commissioner. The federal Competition Act prohibits anyone from making a materially false or misleading representation for the purpose of promoting any business interest.
The application identifies climate denier groups that try to confuse and mislead the Canadian public about climate science through various means. These include billboards and websites claiming the earth is not warming or, alternatively, humans are not causing any warming. Why make these claims? For one, uncertainty about climate science reduces competition for carbon-intensive business interests. We don’t know exactly who funds these denier groups but we do know that at least one major Canadian oil and gas company has in the past.
The ball is now in the Commissioner’s court to decide whether to begin an inquiry. An inquiry could lead to a criminal charge under the Competition Act or civil proceedings brought in the Commissioner’s own name. Watch this space for updates.
Looking to the year ahead, climate change will continue to be a major issue in Canada. Soon Prime Minister Trudeau will meet with the provinces to hash out Canada’s national climate strategy in the wake of the Paris Agreement. The key planks will be a national target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the policies needed to get us there, including some way to price carbon and measures that keep fossil fuels in the ground.
The Paris Agreement contains important principles for guiding global action but, as we’ve explained, it leaves it up to individual countries to do their fair share in reducing greenhouse gasses. This means it is up to Canadians to push our government — in the courts, in the boardroom, and on the streets — to take the climate change action we need. We’re up for the challenge and we hope you are too.