Over 30 groups and organizations, representing thousands of Canadians, issued a joint statement to the Canadian government on Wednesday decrying the government's lack of commitment to domestic action on climate change and the international climate negotiations process.
In their letter, the signatories claim that "the government's recent failure to submit Canada's targets for emissions cuts to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by the March 31 deadline is indicative of this lack of commitment."
The groups claimed that the UNFCCC invited developed countries to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).
"These submissions are voluntary, but highly important," said the groups. "They demonstrate a country's commitment to engage meaningfully in the next and most critical international climate change treaty."
According to UFNCC documents, the United States, member states of the European Union, Russia and Mexico have all submitted INDCs in accordance with the March 31 deadline.
"As one of only a few developed countries that have yet to submit, Canada is out of step with its closest allies and trade partners. We are not pulling our weight as a member of the international community and not doing our fair share to reduce emissions."
Under the Copenhagen Accord, Canada is committed to a 17 per cent emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2020. Yet under current policies, based on Environment Canada's 2012 Progress Report, Canada is expected to reach a mere 1.5 per cent reduction by 2020.
"This lack of progress makes Canada a climate pariah when so many other nations are stepping up their plans for emissions cuts to address dangerous climate change. Both Canadians and the international community expect to see firm commitments from our country to keep us below the 2°C threshold."
For that reason, they demanded that the government develop a national action plan to stabilize the rise in global average temperatures to below 2°C.
That plan, they said, should include an end to subsidies that promote the growth of the fossil fuel industry, a price on carbon to cap carbon-intensive forms of production and an investment in a national renewable energy plan to secure a low-carbon future.
"Canada is at a crossroads. We are calling upon our government to stand on the right side of history. The path we choose will define us as a nation and determine the future of our children and grandchildren. Taking action on climate at the international level is intrinsically linked to the well-being of all Canadians.
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