Over the past five years, Jonathan Wilkinson has served as, first, the Parliamentary Secretary to former Minister of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), Catherine McKenna, then Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and now for the past two years has himself been the MOECC. Throughout that time, Marlo Raynolds has served as Chief of Staff to both Ministers, and this team has successfully collaborated to move the dial on climate action in a more impactful fashion than ever before seen in Canada.
When the Liberals formed government in 2016, after ten years of Conservative rule, Canada was on a path to not only miss our international commitment of a 30% reduction in GHGs from 2005 levels, but actually increase emissions by 12%.
After developing the 2016 Pan-Canadian plan, and the implementation of making those generating carbon pollution pay to do so, the new approach reset Canada’s trajectory to a 227 MT reduction – 19% below 2005 levels. This first plan began to close the gap to meet the target.
Believing that just meeting 30% was not enough, and more was essential to limit climate change, the team aimed higher, with significant results, ensuring that the Covid recovery would not just build back, but build back better – fighting climate change at the same time.
Working across government departments, Canada released a strengthened climate plan – “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy”. The plan is the foundation for increasing Canada’s carbon reductions targets from 30% to 40-45% and puts forward an achievable plan to do so, while simultaneously creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and allocating supports for the most impacted workers and employers.
Other actions included successful passage of climate accountability legislation, an accelerated Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) target – eliminating most gas-powered passenger cars by 2035 – and significantly increasing Canada’s national price on pollution. These changes have been hailed by environmentalists and economists alike, with prominent SFU economist and Clean50 Alumnus Mark Jaccard scoring the plan an 8, compared to much lower numbers awarded all the other parties. Prof. Jaccard’s analysis also indicates the measures outlined in this climate plan are likely to enable Canada to achieve its ambitious climate target.
Nature protection has also been a top priority for the team. In August 2019, Minister Wilkinson designated Tuvaijuittuq a Marine Protected Area (MPA), representing over 300 km2, and adding 5.5% to Canada’s MPA target. He’s also been key in advancing Canada’s terrestrial targets, contributing to an increase from 10.5% in 2016 to 14% today. [For a more complete description of the team’s impacts over the past 2.5 years, see the list here]