(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Trudeau urged to boost Canada’s post-COVID economy by investing in nature

An open letter is calling on the feds to provide staff, research and resource support to meet climate goals

By Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter. National Observer

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the government remains “fully committed” to preserving a quarter of natural land and ocean habitat by 2025, following a call from hundreds of groups to ensure conservation is at the heart of any post-pandemic recovery.

In an open letter published July 13 to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 235 environmental organizations, including about 50 B.C.-based groups, said they “stand ready to provide staff, research and resource support” to help Canada devise a strategy to achieve its biodiversity and climate targets.

The letter argues that government investments in forests, wetlands, grasslands, oceans, lakes and rivers can create jobs and help boost Canada’s economic recovery as it works to build capacity following the initial wave of COVID-19.

“Over the next six to 18 months, we urge the government to support investments in a variety of economic recovery solutions that support climate and biodiversity outcomes,” reads the letter, signed by Nature Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and others.

“Over the longer term, expert advice should be sought by relevant departments on how to structure programs and investments in order to achieve the transformative relationship between society and nature that is needed to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for Canadians.”

Canada set a target to conserve at least 17 per cent of land and freshwater, and 10 per cent of marine areas, by this year, as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity. According to federal government figures, by the end of 2019 it had reached this goal for marine areas, but not for land and freshwater.

Those figures show that Canada conserved 13.8 per cent of its marine territory, and 12.1 per cent of land and freshwater by the end of 2019. The proportion of conserved land and water varies widely across the country, with British Columbia conserving the most, at 19.5 per cent.

Last year, dozens of scientists warned the Trudeau government it was not on pace to meet its conservation goals. During the federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to increase the amount of land, freshwater and marine areas conserved to 25 per cent by 2025.

The goals under the convention say the original target should be achieved “by 2020,” but Trudeau said during the campaign that the government was “on track” to its 17 per cent goal “by the end of next year.”

In July, Canada also joined the Global Ocean Alliance, which has as its goal the protection of 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030. Meanwhile, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said Canada will work toward a new biodiversity target under the Convention on Biological Diversity, next year in 2021.

Harry Crosby, president of North Vancouver-based BC Nature, a federation of more than 50 naturalist clubs across the province, said in an interview that he was “encouraged by the promises and the concern which the federal government is showing” on the issue of biodiversity and land protection, but wanted to see more details.

“Our concern is that there needs to be a coherent policy developed,” Crosby said. “It’s great to talk about spending money on biodiversity, but our concern is looking at the difference between the general policy statements and the practice, what’s actually happening on the ground.”

Wilkinson’s press secretary Moira Kelly said the government’s priority remains COVID-19, but “climate change and biodiversity loss still present a threat to our economic and physical well-being.”

“We remain fully committed to preserving 25 per cent of Canada’s land and oceans by 2025 and ensuring that nature-based climate solutions are embedded in our plans to fight climate change,” Kelly said.

“We are always open to hearing innovative and green ways to grow our economy while protecting the environment, and will consider these recommendations with interest.”

The letter points out that biodiversity loss is accelerating worldwide, and Canada has a responsibility, as a country with a large land mass containing many ecosystems, “for the welfare of planetary diversity.”

Out of 80,000 species in Canada, there is only enough information to assess the health of 30,000 — of which a fifth are imperiled, they said.

Natural landscapes are key to storing up to 20 per cent of carbon pollution over the next 30 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a fact that is key to avoiding the more severe effects of the climate crisis.

In Canada, human disruption is leading to habitat loss, which is putting its Paris climate target at risk, the letter said.

In addition to BC Nature, officially the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists, there are 47 other B.C.-based organizations that have put their names to the letter, including West Coast Environmental Law, Wildsight and the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve Society.

Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read