OTTAWA, March 27, 2021
On this annual day of action of the Earth Hour movement, I want to reaffirm my unwavering commitment to the environment—a commitment shared by millions of people around the world. In the fight against climate change, every gesture, no matter how small, makes a difference, and collectively we can have a real impact on the environment.
It is with this same strategy that we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis and the climate crisis are similar in many ways. Both have enormous repercussions on health, social structures and the economy, and they particularly affect vulnerable populations such as seniors, women, youth, Black or racialized persons, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and new Canadians. These two crises require us to get involved, to take concrete action and to stay the course.
Solutions exist to address the threats on both fronts. In the Government of Canada, we recognize the inequities that these two crises have put at the forefront, and we are determined to take action. By going green, we will build back better. The stimulus plan we are developing, which includes the creation of one million jobs, will make the economy greener, more inclusive, more resilient and more competitive. We remain firmly committed to exceeding Canada’s Paris Accord targets and to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. We’re on the right track. On February 8, the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices released its report Canada’s Net Zero Future. The report estimates that by continuing to implement ambitious policies, we will surpass our target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. A carbon-neutral Canada is possible, and will benefit all Canadians.
At Canadian Heritage, we are working with the provinces and territories and with municipalities, Indigenous peoples and all stakeholders to integrate the green shift into policies and programs. In a letter recently addressed to the organizations and Crown corporations that are part of our department, I asked people to sign on to the goals of the Greening Government Strategy. This strategy—which guides the internal operations of the Government of Canada with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050—requires each organization to complete an inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions in order to be able to evaluate progress and be accountable to Canadians. It also sets out rigorous measures to implement in order to reduce the emissions of our buildings, our vehicle fleets, our national safety and security activities, and our procurement, and to ensure that our activities and our assets can resist the effects of climate change.
In addition, we support the arts, culture, heritage and sport communities in their ecological transition. A series of environmental roundtables, held in the fall of 2020, allowed us to assess the current situation with our partners and plan the next steps together. Canadian Heritage applauds the work that arts, culture, heritage and sport organizations are doing to address the climate crisis, and has sought their expertise to explore ways in which it can support their efforts. For example, in February, we announced significant investments to achieve a net zero carbon standard for the new Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada shared facility, which will soon be built in downtown Ottawa.
We are working with national museums to raise awareness of climate change in Canada. We are also working with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to provide clearer direction on how national heritage sites should be designated and preserved.
Finally, at Canadian Heritage, environmental action is part of our daily thinking. Starting this year, the Department of Canadian Heritage is committed is to compensating financially for its greenhouse gas emissions by investing annually in the Greening Government Fund. As for myself, it was clear that my departmental car needed to be fully electric, and when I travel by air, I purchase carbon credits to offset the emissions from the flights.
We have just experienced a very challenging year, and we could all use a break. But we need to hang in there! Today, let’s all take part virtually in the annual Earth Hour event!
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage