‘We’re running out of time’: Trudeau’s Liberals under fire after Star reveals slow pace of climate action

OTTAWA—Opposition critics expressed disappointment and concern Thursday over the pace of federal climate action, after the Star revealed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals failed to spend billions of dollars they promised on a series of climate-related initiatives in recent years.

Elizabeth May, a longtime Green MP and party co-leader, said she felt betrayed by Trudeau’s Liberals, who she believed would tackle the climate crisis more aggressively after they took office in 2015. She argued that the government has more enthusiastically funded fossil fuel. industry through projects such as the $31 billion Trans Mountain pipeline, while spending less on programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the climate crisis.

“I am one of those Canadians who believed in Justin Trudeau and feels deeply deceived. And we’re running out of time. The whole country is on fire, facing flooding, facing extreme weather events,” May said.

“The window is closing. What will future generations think of us?

Speaking by phone from Toronto, New Democrat Rep. Charlie Angus noted that the government has never, since it began making climate commitments through international negotiations in the 1990s, hit any targets for reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse gases that cause climate change. He said Ottawa needs to move faster to ensure low-carbon development projects for the emerging economy support workers, after the NDP helped craft new “sustainable jobs” legislation under their parliamentary deal. with the liberals.

“They have a bad record of making promises and not keeping them,” Angus said. “There is a lot of concern and a feeling that we have to make this happen.”

The criticism followed the publication of an analysis in the Star that found that nearly $7.8 billion was not spent or was spent more slowly than promised in various federal budgets on 10 major climate initiatives between fiscal years 2016-17 and 2021- 22.

The government insists it can make a significant contribution to the global effort to minimize the damage of climate change, while benefiting from the economic shift away from the fossil fuels that cause it. The Liberals now boast of making $200 billion in long-term “commitments” since taking office in 2015. They also pledged to cut national emissions to at least 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, already that leading scientists warned that unprecedented change is taking place. necessary and time is running out to avoid the worst extremes of climate change.

On Thursday, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson admitted that spending has been slow on some climate-related programmes. He made the comments while praising how the government is introducing a new bill that will provide a framework for public reporting and policy to support good-paying jobs outside of the fossil fuel sector, legislation that was first promised nearly four years ago. .

Asked if the government is acting with the urgency required to address the climate crisis and ensure clean economy jobs are created in Canada, Wilkinson said it is, blaming a number of factors, including the previous Conservative government that left office. almost eight years ago. slow spending that occurred under the Liberal government.

“It has taken time to ramp up the programs. That is the nature of government. It is also the nature of the fact that we had a government for 10 years that did nothing about climate change,” said Wilkinson, who also blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the slowdown in spending.

While emphasizing that the “pace of development has to go faster,” Wilkinson also said upcoming spending through tax credits to spur construction of clean energy, hydrogen and electricity projects, part of a package the government hopes will cost $80 billion by 2025, they also flow faster than some direct public funding for certain programs.

“All bureaucracies ossify over time,” Wilkinson added. “It’s certainly something right now that we’re thinking about enormously.”

The government also came under fire on Thursday after parliament’s budget watchdog reported that the government’s independent export development agency has invested $15.4 billion in the oil and gas sector. The report prompted calls from opposition parties, echoing the demands of environmental organizations, for the federal government to expand the scope of financial support it promises to scrap for the fossil fuel sector.

For green MP Mike Morrice, insufficient government spending on climate initiatives, including prominent programs like the Low Carbon Economy Fund, stands in “sad contrast” to continued public funding of the fossil fuel industry.

“The government is not spending what it has committed to on good investments like the Low Carbon Economy Fund, and is overinvesting in the funds to subsidize the industry most responsible for the crisis,” Morrice said. “It’s deeply disappointing.”

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