Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 20 March 2023 - The Synthesis Report released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it plain: the world has the science and the solutions needed to tackle climate change – but political inertia and fossil fuel interests are preventing their implementation and threatening the health and safety of humanity and our planet. For Canada, the onus is now on political leaders to step up and implement real solutions, starting now.
The IPCC AR6 Synthesis report is the final piece of the most comprehensive assessment of climate science yet, and will be foundational to policy and decision-making during this critical decade. It shows that the only way to avoid the worst consequences of climate change is through deep, rapid cuts to fossil fuel emissions, but that current plans would consign the world to far more dangerous, frequent, and extreme impacts – hitting marginalized communities the hardest.
The report sets out what’s needed for countries to course-correct: immediately ramping up mitigation efforts, along with scaling up adaptation to build resilience to the impacts that can no longer be avoided and addressing loss and damage. Financial flows must be redirected from fossil fuels towards clean energy and climate solutions, and Global North countries must fulfill their commitments to provide climate finance to support the energy transition and adaptation in Global South countries.
Fortunately, renewable energy is more affordable, efficient, and scalable than ever. The report shows that implementing both mitigation and adaptation actions can also yield many co-benefits for health, well-being and livelihoods. But to take advantage of these benefits, the world must confront and end its fossil fuel addiction.
To galvanize action, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has announced an Acceleration Agenda and will host a Climate Ambition Summit in New York in September. For Global North countries like Canada, the bar for entry to the summit includes commiting to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040; ceasing all licensing or funding of new oil and gas; and stopping any expansion of existing oil and gas reserves. Whether or not Canada steps up its climate game over the next few months to the extent needed to join the summit will be a litmus test of this government’s dedication to listening to the science and establishing a safer future.
Caroline Brouillette, Acting Executive Director, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada:
“Scientists have worked tirelessly to assess the state of our planet over the past eight years. The IPCC is crystal clear that acting without delay is the only safe option, especially for marginalized populations most vulnerable to climate change, and that we will face increasing dangers with every tenth of a degree of increase in temperature.
“Now, we need governments to shake themselves out of their dangerous complacency and finally take the baton and cut emissions across systems and sectors, invest in adaptation and respond to losses and damages, at the speed and scale required. It is time to confront, once and for all, the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on policy which has blocked climate action for decades. Within the next few months, the Canadian government must demonstrate how it will align its actions with science, do its fair share, and enact rapid, equitable, transformational change.”
Andréanne Brazeau, Climate Policy Analyst, Équiterre:
“The new IPCC report could not be more explicit. The most effective solutions for a safer and more just future already exist and are within our reach. We must transform how we produce, how we consume, how we get around, how we eat and how we use the land. The decisions that our governments make in the coming years will have long term consequences on our communities and the living world. We need coordinated efforts because the consequences on our health, agriculture and economy are increasingly being felt. All of these impacts are interconnected. The social and political response must be as well.”
Dr. Melissa Lem, President, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment:
“Today’s IPCC report underlines the scientific truth behind our lived experience on the west coast: that catastrophic heat, flooding and wildfires will continue and worsen unless we take rapid, society-wide measures to end our dependence on fossil fuels and keep 1.5°C alive. Despite this, dangerous investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, whether it’s pipelines or LNG plants, continue apace. We have all the solutions for a safe and healthy future that respects nature and embraces the co-benefits of climate action at our fingertips—what we need is the political courage and will to choose them.”
Julia Levin, Associate Director, National Climate, Environmental Defence Canada:
“The world’s scientists have once again rung the alarm bells on the frightening future that awaits if we fail to tackle the climate crisis this decade. Decades of obstruction by the fossil fuel industry have led us to the brink of catastrophe. And now those same actors are trying to delay climate action by advancing dangerous distractions like carbon capture. Fossil fuels are causing the climate emergency. A rapid and equitable phaseout of fossil fuels must be the centerpiece of any science-based strategy.”
Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director, Stand.earth:
“Canada continues to lag behind other G7 nations when it comes to reducing our emissions and the reason is clear — oil and gas is our largest and fastest growing source of climate pollution. Today’s IPCC report makes it clear that Justin Trudeau must stop approving and subsidizing new fossil fuel projects now, including the $30 billion Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline, and reinvest those funds into clean, safe, renewable energy.”
Andrea Koehle Jones, Founder & Children’s Environmental Education Advocate, The ChariTree Foundation:
“When we fail to act on the science of climate change, we fail children everywhere.
“Children in Canada and around the world are suffering from devastating climate impacts – extreme storms, heat waves, flooding, wildfires. Kids are counting on us. Today’s message from the IPCC is clear: we have powerful solutions but the world needs to step up and deliver urgent climate action on all fronts: ‘everything, everywhere, all at once.’”
Sabaa Khan, Director of Climate Solutions and Director-General of Quebec and Atlantic Canada, David Suzuki Foundation:
“We have absolute certainty from the world’s leading scientists that our relentless use of fossil fuels is driving the climate crisis. This report reveals that promises from governments worldwide to reduce global emissions are not being met. Burning coal, oil and gas has consistently increased.
“The report makes it clear that you can’t stand for the environment and survival of life on Earth if you invest in fossil fuels. Continued public investments in fossil fuels vastly exceed public investments in mitigation and adaptation measures.
“In Canada, fossil fuels are the largest and fastest-growing source of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Canada’s government faces a critical moment with its federal budget next week. It must stop public spending on fossil fuels and instead direct public funding to proven, cost-effective, widely available climate solutions. This includes wind, solar, clean electricity, electrification of cities, energy efficiency, investment in natural infrastructure and reducing food waste.”
Angela Carter, Energy Transitions Specialist, International Institute for Sustainable Development:
“The IPCC tells us that renewable energy is key to a safer future. They also warn that relying too much on carbon capture technology represents a major risk to climate safety. We know that carbon capture and storage in the oil and gas sector isn’t effective here in Canada, since existing CCS projects capture less than two per cent of the sector’s emissions, even after decades of development and billions of dollars of public investment. The growing consensus is that CCS for oil and gas won’t be enough and costs too much, and the IPCC research supports that view. Canada should prioritize more effective measures and stop spending billions on CCS.”
Amara Possian, Canada Team Lead, 350.org:
“This IPCC report underscores just how urgently Canada needs to step up its response to the climate emergency. No matter how much we invest in climate solutions, we won’t get anywhere if our federal government keeps propping up the oil and gas industry. It’s not too late to change course, and secure a liveable future for all, but first Trudeau needs to stop wasting billions on fossil fuel subsidies and start investing in a rapid, just transition to clean energy.”
Patrick Bonin, Climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada:
“From hurricane Fiona to devastating floods and fires to deadly heat waves, Canada knows what the climate crisis looks and feels like.
“The IPCC report shows solutions exist to exit this highway speeding towards massive global heating on which the least responsible are the most affected. Our provincial and federal governments need to stop helping fossil fuel and other industries pollute — no new pipelines and drilling, for example — and start holding them accountable for the harm they cause. They need to get a move on scaling up solutions that exist today. This report provides a roadmap — and marks one of our last exits.”
Alan Andrews, Program Director – Climate, Ecojustice Canada:
“The IPCC report could not be clearer. Without deep, rapid, and sustained reductions to global greenhouse gas emissions we will not only blow the remaining carbon budget but miss the rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable future. There has never been more certainty that immediate and effective action on climate is both essential and achievable. We need to rewire our legal and financial systems so that capital flows away from fossil fuel development and toward climate action, and so that governments, companies and financial institutions are held accountable for delivering on their climate promises.”
Dr. Moe Qureshi, Manager of Climate Solutions, Conservation Council of New Brunswick:
“The IPCC makes clear there must be no new fossil fuel development, including here in New Brunswick, if we are to avoid even more serious extreme weather than our recent experience with post-tropical storm Fiona. Renewable energy, coupled with batteries, is what we need as we phase out all uses of fossil fuels while ensuring reliability and affordability. Investing in clean energy solutions is what we need to protect our ecosystems, economy, and social wellbeing.”
Carole Holmes & Lorraine Green, Co-chairs, Grandmothers Act to save the Planet (GASP):
“As one of the largest per capita contributors to damaging the climate, Canada has an immense responsibility to stop funding oil and gas and limit global warming to 1.5 C degrees. We must quickly build infrastructure to adapt to extreme weather and ensure that the transition to renewable energy is compassionate and equitable. Clean air to breathe, safe water to drink and healthy food to eat is the legacy we must leave for future generations. Protecting what we love, our grandchildren, is paramount!”
Cathy Orlando, National Director, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada:
“The report is clear that there is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels if existing barriers are reduced. These barriers can be removed by a combination of carbon pricing with rebates, carbon border adjustment mechanisms, reforms at the multilateral development banks and climate risk disclosure rules such as Senator Rosa Galvez’s private member’s bill S-243, The Climate-Aligned Finance Act.”
Glenn Wright, Saskatchewan Coalition for Sustainable Development:
This report is another in a growing body of evidence that clearly warns us of impending doom. We must change immediately. We must reduce our impacts, replace fossil energy with clean energy, and reconcile our relationships with each other and with nature. As Amitav Ghosh has said: “The climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination.”
Professor Marcia McKenzie, University of Melbourne; Director, Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education Project:
“The IPCC report released today shows that countries are making progress towards achieving net neutrality but accelerated climate action is still needed to ensure we do not exceed a 1.5°C global temperature rise. Increased quality education, training, and public awareness are vital for developing the capacity and policies necessary to equitably reduce reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate and adapt to climate impacts.”
Marie-Christine Bélanger, Director Expertise and Innovation at SOCODEVI:
“The new IPCC report is clear: we must now take concrete actions to help the most vulnerable populations adapt to climate change. SOCODEVI, through its projects supported by the cooperative and mutualist network of Quebec, implements fair, inclusive and equitable solutions that promote the protection and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity in order to improve the living conditions of communities. The IPCC says: we must do more. Canada must increase its international aid investments to ensure a viable and sustainable future for everyone.”
Gerardo Almaguer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Desjardins International Development (DID):
“Unsurprisingly, we have entered the era of consequences. By working closely with local populations for more than 50 years, DID is a privileged witness of the impacts of climate change. We are convinced that the mobilization of local financial institutions and green finance is a powerful driver of systemic changes, enabling the adoption of sustainable consumption and production patterns, as well as nature-based solutions. Canadian government and NGOs must continue to join their efforts to accelerate the economic empowerment of disadvantaged people, women, youth, and communities. It is an essential condition for enhancing their resilience and help them not only cope with climate change, but also seize the opportunities associated to a transition towards a greener economy.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Vicky Coo, Communications Lead