Does Canada Have a Plan to Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies?

CBC released an article last week examining the lack of transparency in the Federal government after Auditor General Michael Ferguson was unable to gain key documents from Finance Canada to assess what progress has been made to meet Canada’s G20 commitment.

In 2009, G20 countries promised to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies, although, Finance Canada has not defined what what inefficient fossil subsidy is, nor how many there could be.  Finance Canada and Climate Change Canada also have not demonstrated whether tax reforms are working, and refused to provide social, economic and environmental analyses of these subsidies, according to Ferguson.

What was unprecedented was Finance Canada stonewalling the auditor general to release information to Canadians about a central commitment of this Liberal government on the climate file” – Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

It appears the department has no plans on making documents more accessible in the future, which presents many issues for a government that makes big promises for tackling climate change.

Ferguson also found that the government has not yet implemented its plan to end subsidies by 2025.

“Government departments must make sure that they implement their programs in the way that they were designed and communicated to Canadians,” he said. “Programs will not produce their intended results if departments do not put into practice what they said they were going to deliver.” – Ferguson

The article says other G20 countries are being more transparent about their subsidies than Canada is, with the United States and China even opening their books to each other.

Further articles looking at this issue:

As a Canadian citizen who cares about environmental issues, I find it reprehensible and alarming for the federal government to withhold these documents because it raises two primary questions: to what degree is the federal government propping gas and oil companies and how serious are they about addressing climate change?

I think it’s very easy for a government platform to make promises regarding the environment to gain voter confidence, but even easier for them to neglect to those promises. In a system that promotes capitalistic values over respect for people and the Earth, it’s more important than ever to hold the government accountable for their promises.

One of the biggest obstacles to addressing environmental issues like climate change is that it essentially requires a paradigm shift for anything to get done. We need to move from away from the philosophy that we as humans own the Earth and understand that we inhabit the Earth. It was around long before us, and will likely be around long after us. In continuing environmentally destructive activities, the only thing we are doing is killing ourselves.

But, at least we can make a profit while doing it.

So long as we favour the economy over the environment instead of seeking ways to promote them harmoniously, the Earth’s resources will continue to dwindle at a rate faster than we can replenish and the less chance future generations have of living in a world with fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink and wilderness to explore.

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