The devastating heat-related deaths in British Columbia should mobilise all of Canada to adopt an ambitious climate action plan, says Annamie Paul

OTTAWA – British Columbia’s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe confirmed this week that 570 of the 815 sudden deaths that occurred during B.C.’s recent extreme heat event, are directly attributable to the record-breaking temperatures. 

“My heart is breaking for the loved ones of the hundreds of B.C. residents who lost their lives suddenly last month,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “We now know that, if not for the extreme heat, these Canadians would not have died at that time. 

“The death of these 570 loved ones is all the more tragic because 79 per cent of the victims were 65 or older. Many of these seniors had underlying health conditions and were amongst our most vulnerable citizens. They survived the pandemic, only to ultimately succumb to the extreme heat caused by the heat dome. To put this in context, more B.C. residents died from the extreme heat in one week than in the deadliest month of the pandemic in B.C. 

“This is a national tragedy which has not received the attention that it deserves and which underscores the proximity of the climate crisis. Climate scientists said this month that the deadly heat wave was virtually impossible without human-caused climate change and such heat waves are predicted to occur every five to 10 years, instead of every 1000 years, if the world warms another 0.8 degrees Celsius. Climate change is here, and its impacts are evident every day, whether it be wildfires, floods or drought. 

“There can no longer be any doubt that the impacts of climate change pose an imminent threat to Canadian lives. Unfortunately, the federal government is falling further and further behind our international partners in its climate action ambition. The U.K., with its gold-standard Accountability Act, has achieved 43 per cent GHG reduction below 1990 levels and recently pledged to achieve 78 per cent below 1990 by 2035. The EU recently pledged to cut GHG emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 and have set out a detailed and ambitious climate plan.  The results of the government’s lack of ambition are clear:

  • Canada’s current emissions are 21 per cent above 1990 levels;
  • Canada has never achieved a climate target;
  • Canada’s GHGs have risen in every year of the Liberal government’s mandate;
  • Canada is one of the top five worst per capita GHG emitters in the world;”

“If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that being prepared saves lives. Now, as residents across the country lose their homes and communities to wildfires, as crops and marine life bake in the heat, and people out West face death and debilitating health impacts from smoke and heat, we are once again reminded that we are not prepared, and the government is playing a dangerous game with our future.

“Greens have been calling for a non-partisan, collaborative approach to the climate emergency for years. Our Green Recovery plan is ambitious and doable. It calls for a 60 per cent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 with clear enforceable targets and timelines, starting in 2025. Priority actions include: 

  • A detailed Carbon Budget setting out GHG emissions allowed to keep within the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold  
  • A Carbon Border Adjustment – a tariff on certain imports from jurisdictions with weak climate policies 
  • Cancellation of all new pipeline projects, oil exploration and the banning of fracking 
  • End all subsidies to the fossil fuel sector
  • A Just Transition for fossil fuel workers
  • A national electricity corridor allowing 100 per cent renewable energy to flow across provincial and territorial borders. 
  • Investments in renewable energy and cleantech 
  • Deep energy retrofits of building 
  • Annual increases in the carbon tax 

“Greens are ready to get to work on executing a plan that matches the scale of the climate challenge. We can do it if we all work together. This is what people in Canada expect, and what we can all do in honour of the memories of those lost to us last month in the deadly heat wave.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview:

Rosie Emery

Press Secretary