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Letter: There is a path to a resilient climate future

‘These policies will spark climate friendly economic growth without burdening low and middle-income households and thereby freeing up money for infrastructure, loss and damage, and adaptation’
typewriter pexels-caryn-938165 (From Pexels by Caryn)

Editor’s note: This letter references a Canadian Press story published Oct. 2, entitled "Report warns of financial fallout from climate change in Canada".

The United Nations humanitarian agency is warning that about 5.7 million Pakistani flood survivors will face a serious food crisis in the next three months, as the death toll from the catastrophic deluge this summer. 

The death toll from Hurricane Ian has passed 80 as embattled residents in Florida and the Carolinas face a recovery expected to cost tens of billions of dollars. Here in Canada, Atlantic Canada was just hit by the worst hurricane it has ever seen, and Canadians in parts of Ontario and western Quebec are still recovering after a derecho that pummeled the region with multiple tornadoes and downbursts bringing winds up to 190 km/h in May. 

So it should not be surprising to read that climate change will impact Canada's economy $25 billion dollars in just over two years. Most of us know by now that the poorest among us will bear the brunt and that the richest among us have much higher carbon footprints than average and can afford to pay for their privilege to pollute.

The Canadian Climate Institute reports that every $1 spent on adaptation measures today, $13-$15 will be returned in years ahead in direct and indirect benefits.

We also have to cut GHG pollution emissions at the same time while addressing an affordability crisis. How can the government do this without sparking a tax revolt? Public money cannot finance the low-carbon transition by itself. 

A significant chunk of costs can be financed by the private sector. At COP 26, the private sector vowed to put $130 trillion at the heart of climate between 2021-2050. What is missing to make this happen are government rules and regulations that will shift private finance away from fossil fuels and towards a resilient and equitable world.

The following policies will shift finance without burdening low and middle-income families:

  1. A November 2021 article in Nature found that it will be possible to reach a 2C target while also increasing wellbeing, reducing inequality, and alleviating poverty globally if countries enacted a carbon fee with an equal per capita dividend policy. Canada and Austria have already enacted such policies.
  2. To spur other countries to price GHG pollution, governments must enact carbon border adjustment mechanisms that take into consideration common but differentiated responsibilities. 
  3. Financial institutions need rules. Canada needs to look no further than Senator Rosa Galvez’s Bill S-243, Climate-Aligned Finance Act. It would guide Canada’s financial sector through an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy in order to meet our climate targets while safeguarding the financial system from the systemic risks posed by climate change.
  4. Governments must tie special drawing rights at the multilateral development banks such the World Bank to human rights and climate-friendly plans.
  5. We must protect wetlands, peatlands, and old growth forests. To do this we must end all nature-destroying subsidies. In February 2022, The B Team and Business for Nature launched a joint brief called “Financing Our Survival: Building a Nature-Positive Economy through Subsidy Reform”.  The conclusions were that governments of the world need to reform $1.8 trillion yearly environmentally harmful subsidies to deliver a nature-positive economy.

These policies will spark climate friendly economic growth without burdening low and middle-income households and thereby freeing up money for infrastructure, loss and damage, and adaptation. 

I have hope because of the city I live in. My climate work here has always been easy and thus allowed me to keep widening my circles. I will be at the G7 meetings for Women (W7) next week. In November, I will attend my fifth Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Keep calm and carry on everyone. We are on the path to net-zero and Sudburians are leading the way.

Cathy Orlando
Greater Sudbury
Director of Programs 
Citizens' Climate International