OTTAWA, May 3, 2019 – Following a decision by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to uphold the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says carbon pricing is an important step to address what he calls “climate destruction” and the impacts of climate change.
“This is a positive step in supporting action on climate change and protecting our lands and waters for future generations,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “First Nations are the original stewards of the land. We are the first to experience the impacts of climate change and we are leaders in fighting this greatest challenge of our time. It is crucial that governments work with First Nations to ensure our rights and our Elders’ traditional knowledge inform all actions in addressing climate change. We must ensure those plans don’t disproportionately impact the unique situation of First Nations, including communities dependent on diesel energy or lacking public transit. We look forward to working with all governments to support full engagement with First Nations to take action on climate change.”
The AFN intervened in the Saskatchewan case in mid-February where Saskatchewan challenged the constitutionality of the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act which was implemented in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick April 1. The AFN argued that a national response that respects First Nations rights, title, jurisdiction and responsibilities is critical given the vulnerability of First Nations to climate change.
AFN Resolution 103/2017: Carbon Pricing Regimes calls on the federal Environment Minister to respect First Nations rights, title, and jurisdiction and responsibilities to their traditional territories and provides AFN with the mandate to develop innovative solutions to the unique circumstances of First Nations, including the possibility of revenue recycling mechanisms that minimize the disproportionate effects of carbon pricing on First Nations.
“First Nations are keen to work together with the federal government on a broad dialogue with provincial, territorial, and First Nations governments on the implementation of this approach and to ensure it respects the unique considerations of First Nations taxation,” said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Adamek, co-chair of the AFN Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment. “Canada has also indicated that part of the carbon tax revenue will support municipalities, schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations and Indigenous communities. Governments need to work with First Nations directly, including those with modern agreements, to ensure equity in the allocation of these funds.”
First Nations are committed to the co-development of policies and regulations under the Act, as articulated in AFN Resolution 09/2018: Develop First Nations-Specific Solutions for the Green House Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This is consistent with the establishment of the AFN-Canada Joint Committee on Climate Action formed following the December 2016 First Ministers Meetings on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.