Vote for action on climate change and health
“With just over two weeks until Canadians head to the polls, CPHA is calling on the next federal government to take leadership in the development and implementation of an effective, evidence-based climate action plan that will help achieve the emission reductions needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C,” said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association. “Our health and the health of our planet depend on it.”
For almost 30 years, CPHA has warned that global warming is the greatest challenge public health has ever faced and today, we are experiencing the physical and mental health consequences in every corner of our country:
- Cardiorespiratory effects from worsening air pollution due to wildfires left many Canadians ill in recent summers.
- Emergency evacuations and population displacement from wildfires and floods have been associated with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- In the Canadian Arctic, where temperatures have increased by 2.3°C since 1948, health risks associated with food insecurity are increasing due to decreased access to traditional food sources.
- Lyme disease has spread into new regions in Canada, and more intense and prolonged pollen seasons have the potential to exacerbate hay fever and asthma.
“We are running out of time,” said Culbert. “Climate change must be treated like the public health emergency that it is.”
In its position statement released today, the Association calls on the federal government to work with provinces, territories, municipalities, communities, Indigenous Peoples, and industries to take action. Many of the policies needed to fight climate change could also produce health benefits, reduce health care costs, and improve social cohesion and equity in our communities.
Develop and implement a Pan-Canadian Climate Change Act to strengthen, support, integrate and enforce existing national and federal frameworks and commitments, and better coordinate provincial/territorial, municipal, and industry plans.
Renew, develop new, and implement effective, evidence-based climate action plans that describe how Canada will achieve the emission reductions needed to do its fair share to keep global warming below 1.5°C based on our commitments in the Paris Accord and the Pan-Canadian Framework.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector, by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, regulating methane emissions, phasing out carbon extraction and undertaking other actions as necessary.
Health of Canadians
Undertake local and regional climate change impact assessments, develop adaptation plans, undertake emergency response planning and training, prepare health equity impact assessments, develop and implement sustainable practices, and support best practice information-sharing among provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous Peoples.
The United Kingdom reduced its climate emissions by 41% between 1990 and 2016 as a result of the Climate Change Act, which led to long-term, legislated targets with policies subject to continuous evaluation by an independent scientific body. In Canada, during the same period, emissions increased from 603 MT to 704 MT. A target-based, policy-driven plan with broad support should provide a similar response in Canada.
“We are in the midst of a climate crisis and our health is at stake,” said Culbert. “Climate change requires an immediate response. Are the political parties committed to doing everything they can to address climate change? We have the opportunity and responsibility to vote for action.”
Ask your candidates where they stand on climate change:
- Do you accept the scientific evidence that climate change is caused by human behaviour and is having a negative impact on the health of Canadians?
- Does your party have an effective, evidence-based climate action plan that demonstrates a national approach to how Canada will achieve the emission reductions needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C, based on our commitments in the Paris Accord and the Pan-Canadian Framework?
- If it forms the next government, will your party develop and properly fund policies and programs to support an equitable transition for farmers, workers, and their communities who will be affected by the transition to a low carbon economy?