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Sudbury letter: Canadian banks must disclose climate risk to create a liveable world

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Re: ‘The heat dome could have killed my granny,’ by Dr. Elaine Blacklock, July 10.

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What would Granny Blacklock do today? I think Granny Blacklock, a practical woman, would ask us all to treat the climate crisis with the same level of determination as we have the COVID-19 crisis.

The heat dome that settled on British Columbia the week of Canada Day resulted in a billion coastal sea animals dead, up to 75 per cent of some fruits cooked on their branches in the Okanagan and Fraser valleys and more than 700 people died – triple the number that would normally occur.

During that same time period, 10 people in the province died from COVID-19. Fewer people are being lost to COVID because people are listening to scientists and cooperating.

What does science say about the climate crisis and how can we cooperate?

Canada has just released to the United Nations our nationally determined contributions (NDC) for reducing our GHGs. Canada’s updated NDC is to reduce our emissions by 40-45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is a substantial increase of ambition beyond Canada’s original NDC of 30 per cent below 2005 levels, as previously communicated upon ratifying the Paris Agreement.

Clearly, there is both good news and bad news in our NDC. Canada as a nation is more ambitious and our new plans have a pathway to get to these improved targets.

But it is not enough.

We are not doing our fair share. In pursuit of the objectives of the Paris Agreement, we are to be guided by its principles, including the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. Thus, more advanced countries such as Canada are expected to be at least 60 per cent below our 2005 levels by 2030.

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How can Canada be more ambitious? We need to enact more policies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

A key solution is for the government to create policies that redirect financial flows away from fossil fuels.

For example, we need to keep improving and defending Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The predictably rising carbon price will signal to investors to stop putting money into fossil fuels and redirect financial flows to clean energy. Happily, because the money is returned to Canadians, it will not burden the middle- and low-income households, either.

Here is another one to consider:

Canada’s Big Five banks, according to the report Banking on Chaos, RBC, TD, Scotiabank, CIBC and BMO, have poured more than $700 billion into fossil fuel companies since the Paris Agreement was signed Dec. 12, 2015.

We should look to New Zealand about Canada’s bank problem. In April, New Zealand introduced a law that will force financial firms to assess not only their own investments, but also to evaluate the companies they are lending money to, in terms of their environmental impact.

Let’s heed the warning of the heat dome. Let’s be practical like Granny Blacklock. Let’s enact strong laws that redirect money away from fossil fuels.

I want to be able to tell the next generation that I listened to the experts, cooperated and helped politicians enact laws that stopped the fossil-fuelled suicide we are collectively heading towards, don’t you?

Cathy Orlando

Director of programs

Citizens’ Climate International

Sudbury

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