The incredibly warm March temperatures in Eastern Canada offered a welcome staycation for some people. They also served as a timely reminder of the kinds of changes that are becoming more common in a warming world. While Torontonians enjoyed shirtless reading breaks, Ottawans experienced the thrill of topless skiing, and Winnipeggers cracked out their green shorts for St. Patrick's Day, the David Suzuki Foundation was busy completing its latest assessment report of provincial climate change action.
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This is the fourth such report that the Foundation has authored and its first since 2008. We believe it is important to credit provinces and territories that are showing climate leadership by seizing opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identifying adaptation measures. We also take the opportunity to suggest ways to strengthen efforts and implement solutions.
What does our report find? Ontario, Quebec, and B.C. continue to lead the way. Ontario has become a continental leader in renewable energy installation (second-most solar PV, ninth-most wind energy). Quebec is the first province to join the Western Climate Initiative's cap-and-trade system, which could play a major role reducing North American carbon emissions. B.C.'s tax on carbon pollution continues to be the most significant on either side of the border, and the province has passed aggressive vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. We've also seen some of the Maritime provinces (P.E.I. and Nova Scotia) move higher in the rankings, thanks to the former's strong commitments to efficiency and renewable energy and the latter's hard cap to reduce emissions from the power sector.
At the opposite end of the rankings, two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, are responsible for 45 per cent of Canada's GHG emissions and more than 80 per cent of Canada's emissions growth over the past 20 years (despite accounting for just 14 per cent of the population and 20 per cent of the economy). Instead of developing plans to ensure environmentally and socially responsible resource extraction, these provinces have spent their time lobbying foreign governments to ensure fossil fuel exports increase. They are green-lighting future emissions growth, forcing other provinces to pick up the slack, and, of course, cementing their cellar-dweller status in future David Suzuki Foundation rankings.
At a time when global climatic changes are as evident as ever, we must demand action from our elected leaders. You can help jumpstart the process by getting involved in local actions as part of 350.org's Climate Impacts Day on May 5.