For Immediate Release: February 27, 2018
Statement by Environmental Defence’s Dale Marshall on the environmental measures in the 2018 federal budget
Ottawa, Ont. – Today’s federal budget has some commendable and strategic investments in environmental protection, but with notable omissions, including a lack of progress on phasing out public subsidies to oil and gas companies. It also recommits to addressing political harassment and freedom of speech for charities.
The budget’s allocation of $1 billion over five years to bolster environmental law reform is a welcome development. It is crucial that the government restores public trust in impact assessments and in energy and industrial project reviews, to ensure that good projects get built. We support the additional funding to make sure these decisions are based on independent science, to enable the public and Indigenous peoples to fully participate in project reviews, and to build capacity within the new impact assessment agency and energy regulator. However, the lack of commitment to a climate test to align energy project carbon emissions with Canada’s climate commitments remains a concern.
Environmental Defence also applauds the government’s $1.5 billion commitment to nature conservation. Protected areas are a critical part of tackling climate change and adapting to its impacts. Though details are not yet available, $20 million in funding over five years for the establishment of an expert panel to assess the government’s progress on reducing carbon emissions is good news, as is $109 million to implement carbon pricing across Canada.
However, the budget fails to make progress on some important government commitments. The budget is silent on the federal pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, choosing to continue using over a billion dollars every year to subsidize an industry that is putting Canada’s climate targets out of reach. And no new funds were allocated to help Canada fulfill its promise to assist poor, developing countries address climate change, a commitment under the Paris Agreement that Canada continues to fall short on.
Also, no additional funding has been allocated for the Great Lakes – a source of drinking water for more than 40 million people. Last year, the federal budget included just $9 million per year for Great Lakes protection, which is a long way from what is needed to protect and restore the lakes.
Environmental Defence and other civil society organizations working in a variety of sectors are encouraged by the budget commitment to both meet its promise of allowing charitable organizations to carry out their work free from political harassment, and to modernize the rules governing the charitable sector in the coming year. The budget repeated the promise made in the Mandate Letters to the Ministers of Finance, Justice and National Revenue, referenced the consensus recommendations of a government appointed Expert Panel’s report, and promised to respond in coming months. A positive response is critical as Canada’s charities cannot continue to operate in a climate of uncertainty.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 247; 416-356-2587 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org