Environmental groups across Canada applauded the federal government and the provinces that signed on to the 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. But now, a little more than two years later, there are signs of a growing credibility gap between the federal government’s commitments in the plan and its ability to deliver upon them. In the battle for Canadian climate leadership, British Columbia (B.C.) may have regained the upper hand.
Eight environmental organizations are calling on the Prime Minister to make the government more accountable for achieving its climate goals. The Pembina Institute, West Coast Environmental Law, Ecojustice, and other organizations have sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a letter pointing to B.C.'s new climate plan, CleanBC, as the new model for the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
Both CleanBC and the Pan-Canadian Framework set ambitious targets for 2030. But CleanBC takes an important additional step by including accountability measures, they argue. The Pan-Canadian Framework pledges ongoing monitoring, but CleanBC includes specific accountability measures backed by funding in the 2019 provincial budget: a commitment to ongoing climate policies and planning, an independent, expert panel, and interim carbon budgets with three- to five-year emission reduction forecasts. Moreover, B.C. says these mechanisms will be enshrined in legislation.
Both CleanBC and the Pan-Canadian Framework acknowledge that their plans as written will fall short of their 2030 targets by approximately 25%. That gap is intended to be filled by unspecified ‘other measures’ — presumably new technologies and opportunities that arise on the road to 2030. The difference with CleanBC, say the letter-writers, is that it outlines where the opportunities lie and pledges to develop actions to close the gap within 18 to 24 months.
Meanwhile, the 25% gap acknowledged in the Pan-Canadian Framework has actually grown larger since the plan was agreed to in 2016, they say.
A national plan won’t be a copy of CleanBC, but it can and should serve as an inspiration, they say.