Last Monday, the Liberal government unveiled its new guidelines for ending "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies". According to the Green Party, this is an insufficient measure that does not adequately respond to the urgency of the moment.
In a press release issued on April 17, 2023 by Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault, Canada pledged to eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies "by the end of 2023". This plan represents a major step back from the original commitment. We can also add that this plan only applies to future subsidies. Grants already awarded will continue to be paid. Minister Guilbault did not want to give a precise amount of subsidies that will not be paid out thanks to this plan. It is therefore rather difficult to assess the effectiveness of this measure.
"Ever since former Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed to end "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies in 2009 Greens have focused on the weasel word "inefficient." How does that qualifier undermine the whole commitment? Trudeau held to the same promise. So predictably we have seen public money continue to flow to the fossil fuel sector ”, said leader Elizabeth May. “And the flow of public money to boost fossil fuel production has increased with $31 billion to build the Transmountain pipeline which Canadians now own. With new subsidies to boost fossil fuels disguised as climate action with fossil-sourced hydrogen being added to the list of subsidies in the 2023 budget. With fake climate action like carbon capture and storage being funded.
Real action to end fossil fuel subsidies is demanded by Canadians and acted on by Greens, as in the current e-petition sponsored by Green MP Mike Morrice. Deputy leader Jonathan Pedneault stressed the obvious loopholes.“
"In the midst of a climate crisis with the oil and gas industry making record-breaking profits, ending all subsidies to the very industry most responsible for the crisis should be seen as the minimum bar - not some lofty aspiration that we need to continue advocating for," said Mike Morrice, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre.
“One of the biggest flaws in this strategy is that it only applies to federal tax measures and departmental spending and programs," says Deputy Leader Jonathan Pedneault. “It doesn't apply to the Crown corporations responsible for the bulk of public funding. Applying a simple Band-Aid to an open wound won't be enough.”
It's not the first time that Minister Guilbault's credibility has been put to the test, as he tries to justify himself. A clear strategy for capping GHG emissions has still not been presented.
The climate emergency calls for drastic and meaningful solutions. The Trudeau government's incrementalist strategy is not enough and will solve nothing. The oil and gas industry will be able to continue emitting GHGs as before, and the consequences of high emissions will remain visible and tangible. It's a mere window-dressing measure that doesn't solve the underlying problem. What will our grandchildren think of the fact that, in the midst of the climate crisis, we were busy determining which subsidies to the industry most harmful to our planet we wanted to keep?"
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Fabrice Lachance Nové