What would you say is the biggest roadblock we face in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050?
Our government has committed to reducing Canada’s emissions by 40 to 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 and putting Canada on a path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This goal will require collaboration and innovation across all parts of society. Developing regulations take time, and implementation does as well. Reaching net-zero emissions will require dedication and motivation, but the results will benefit all: clean air and a strong economy.
What’s the most impactful tool we have at our disposal to achieve net-zero emissions?
One of the most impactful tools can be found across our country: nature. Nature has the ability to build resilience and help Canada meet its 2030 and 2050 climate change objectives. Nature-based solutions are actions to conserve, sustainably manage, and restore ecosystems. These actions will help store and capture carbon, mitigate the impacts of climate change, build resilience and improve water quality, and provide critical habitat for Canada’s wildlife. Our climate plan uses all the tools in the toolbox, and our commitment to protecting 25 per cent of our lands and oceans by 2025 is an important part of that plan.
What’s your response to those who feel that reaching net zero is too lofty a goal for many businesses, let alone a country?
Businesses across Canada are developing cleaner ways of doing business — not just to reduce harmful emissions but also to be more resilient and competitive in the 21st-century economy. Canada is on the way to net zero, and we will ensure all Canadians are supported during the transition to a cleaner economy.
How has your climate activism changed during your time in the public sector, and what’s your vision for the country uniting for this common goal?
As an activist, I’ve been pushing for change for over 30 years in the environmental field. Although my role has changed, I would say that my activist skills are necessary when uniting individuals around the important cause of climate change and biodiversity loss. We would often agree with critics who say we’re not doing enough. We must go faster and further on the environment. Change does not happen with the flip of a switch — hard work is required to change the system. We can do this!
What would you recommend to business leaders to ensure that their organization’s environmental efforts are realistic and achievable?
Businesses planning for the future can see already that it pays to be part of the low-carbon economy of the 21st century. The Net-Zero Challenge is designed to challenge businesses, big and small, to transition to cleaner ways of doing business. It offers both the tools and recognition to support their efforts. At the same time, the Net-Zero Challenge will be backed by solid reporting requirements so that we can be sure that businesses are meeting its high standards. I encourage businesses to look into joining!
With Canada’s commitment to achieving zero plastic waste by 2030, how much do you believe this will move the needle in the right direction?
In Canada, plastic packaging represents nearly half of all the plastic that ends up in landfills. Currently, less than 15 per cent of packaging waste is successfully recycled. Labels on plastic packaging that claim recyclability or compostability are often inaccurate. Canadians are not given clear information about whether an item should be put in a recycling bin, composting bin, or garbage. This can result in confusion and products ending up in the wrong place. New labelling rules would prohibit using the chasing arrows symbol and other recyclability claims on plastic products unless at least 80 per cent of Canadians have access to recycling systems that accept and have reliable end markets for them.
As Canada continues to move toward meeting its commitment of conserving 25 per cent of its lands and oceans by 2025, what effect do you think this will have on the country’s push to reach net zero?
We’re strengthening our protection of wildlife and their habitats by designating Big Glace Bay Lake as a National Wildlife Area. We must take action locally, regionally, and nationally to recover Canada’s species at risk, protect migratory birds, and restore our natural areas and biodiversity. Expanding and supporting conserved and protected natural areas is an effective way to help curb the unprecedented loss of nature and biodiversity we’re experiencing in Canada and around the world. It’s also aligned with our ambitious targets of protecting 25 per cent of our lands and oceans by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.