Sustainability event expresses concern for Canada’s climate action

Climate change experts discuss whether the Canadian government is on track for sustainable energy futures

This is a photo of a climate protest sign that reads “Climate Justice Now.”
PHOTO: Markus Spiske / Unsplash

By: Natalie Cooke, News Writer 

In 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced, “We will continue to do our part to cut pollution and build a cleaner future for everyone.” Yet, conversations from SFU’s “Sustainability Research Intersections” event expressed concern for Canada’s response to climate change. 

The event was held over two days, and was centered around four major themes: energy futures, sustainable mobility, sustainable cities, and nature-based solutions. The event included many panelists with a variety of expertise on each topic. The event had speakers such as Radoslav Dimitrov, Nancy Olewiler, Melina Scholefield, Michael Ross, and Mariana Resener, who discussed the future of energy. 

The event made reference to our endowed access to oil and gas, and the ways in which this has been a blockade in Canada’s progress towards climate change. Further, issues with Canada’s policy implementation were highlighted in the event and the government has been criticized for its lack of action. 

The Peak attended Radoslav Dimitrov’s lecture. Dimitrov is an associate professor at SFU and an expert on climate change negotiations. He said there is a weak correlation between the promises we hear on social discourse from politicians and the actions that come from these promises. 

Trudeau pledged to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 40–45% below the 2005 emissions for 2030. The Financial Post noted that since Trudeau took office in 2015, the percentage of emissions has only plateaued, “but all of Canada’s peers in the Group of Seven, or G7, have managed to achieve economic growth while simultaneously cutting emissions.” 

Dimitrov shared, “There isn’t a single country in the industrialized world whose emissions have grown so much.” He emphasized, “The situation in this country is a disaster that will have devastating economic consequences [ . . . ] Jobs will be lost, and we will be economic losers in the 21st century.” 

Catherine Saget, the chief of unit with the research department of the International Labour Office, said to Canadian HR Reporter, “The impact of heat stress on labour productivity is a serious consequence of climate change, which adds to other adverse impacts such as changing rain patterns, rising sea levels, and loss of biodiversity.” Work-related heat stress will lead to a decrease of millions of jobs. 

Global News reported that 80 million jobs will be lost across the world by 2030; As temperatures rise, the heat becomes too strong to work in. The 2.2% drop in working hours by 2030 will “equal 80 million full-time jobs [ . . . ] with poor countries worst hit.” 

Canada will not be immune to climate change related job loss. By 2025, Vancouver Sun reported Canada’s economic growth will be slowed by $25 billion. They added, “All households will lose income, and low-income households will suffer the most.” Climate change-related economic impacts are primarily caused by the costs of responding to droughts, wildfires, floods — climate disasters cost BC billions of dollars which ultimately slows economic growth. 

Despite the negativity that surrounds Canada reaching its climate goals, Dimitrov explained their goals and policies will only become more aggressive in the future, due to the Paris Agreement. “Every government, including Canada, is completely free to declare its national plan. However, as soon as they declare it, a little obligation kicks in where every five years they have to change that plan upwards, and make it more ambitious.”