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Integrated Proposal to Tackle Canada’s Climate Change Challenges

ACT – Integrated Proposal to Tackle Climate Change Challenges (PDF download)

On August 12, 2016, ACT submitted the following comment to the federal government’s public consultation gathering feedback for the upcoming national climate change plan:

Integrated Proposal to Tackle Canada’s Climate Change Challenges

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Recognize the urgency.

Changes to the composition of the atmosphere, loss of biodiversity and growing water demands are accelerating changes to the global water cycle. This is reducing water security for a wide range of uses in every region of Canada and resulting in increasing economic damage. As the atmosphere warms, it has greater capacity to hold water vapour, thus magnifying potential impacts. Addressing climate change requires urgent and persistent on-going policy attention.

2. Undertake multiple solutions to managing the nexus of water, food, energy and biodiversity.

The intersection of water, food and energy systems with loss of biodiversity has become an accepted platform for reconciling sectoral interests. But we face so many overlapping and intersecting interests we can no longer afford to fix them one at a time or in isolation to one another. Future development must be ecologically and socially restorative to increase benefits associated with proper functioning natural systems. More attention must also be applied to understanding how impacts of climate change affect our fragile political systems, vulnerable global economy and already tense international relations in a crowded and warming world.

3. Set a binding target for Canada to become carbon neutral by mid-century.

This is the aspirational goal of the Paris Agreement and Canada should take a leading role in its achievement. This requires integrating the reduction of GHG emissions with adapting to the effects of climate change, a combination we have termed Low Carbon Resilience. Some of the resources associated with pricing carbon should be applied to undertaking the integrated solutions outlined above. These involve protecting and restoring ecosystems to increase carbon absorption; urban planning that combines emissions reduction and adaptation measures; policies for eco-agricultural practices that protect biodiversity; water conservation; maintaining carbon resilient soils and greatly reducing food waste. It also means shifting from centralized energy supply infrastructure to distributed business models based on renewable energy, reduced marginal costs due to rapidly changing technology, and demand management.

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ACT published The Climate Nexus – Water, Food and Energy in a Changing World in 2015, focusing on the crisis in the Nexus and its implications for the Canadian economy. The sequel will be published in Fall 2017 and will examine how we can manage the Nexus. The recommendations in this brief provide a preview of this book. Details of policies required to implement the recommendations are included in the Technical Briefing in the PDF.

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