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Environment Commissioner urges greater government action to tackle ‘one of the biggest challenges facing humanity’

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On April 2, 2019, outgoing federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Julie Gelfand tabled a report titled "Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada: A Collaborative Report from Auditors General”.

The report provides an overview of questions raised in the audit work released over the last 18 months by the auditors-general of most provinces, as well as in the three northern territories and at the federal level, to provide an independent assessment of the state of climate change action in Canada.

The resulting report is critical of successive federal governments for not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite mounting evidence the country is vulnerable to rapid warming.

Gelfand characterized the failure to cut emissions as "disturbing” and urged greater action to tackle what she called one of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

The report shows that, although Canada has committed to slash carbon emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, the most recent federal projections show emissions will be only 19 per cent lower by then – even under the most optimistic scenarios.

The report notes that:

  • more than half the governments did not have overall targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and of those that did, only two were on track to meet their targets;
  • most governments had not fully assessed climate change risks and had not developed detailed adaptation plans;
  • there was limited coordination of climate change action within most governments; and
  • some governments were not reporting on progress in a timely manner.

As partial remedy, the report sets out a number of questions for Canadians to consider asking of their governments. Access the collaborative report at: