CommunityAIR – working towards
a clean, green Toronto waterfront
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Dear Prime Minister,
CommunityAIR objects to your proposed bail‑out of Porter Airlines to the tune of $135 million.
Even though the COVID‑19 crisis properly demands much of our attention now, the climate crisis is looming too, with similar potential impact.
We submit that your decisions to address the damage caused by the pandemic should be guided by what must be done to fix our warming world.
In agreeing to the Paris Accord, your government committed to
“holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C … [by] reaching global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, … and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter”
Globally, emissions continue to grow[i].
Canada’s Auditors‑General have noted[ii] that
Canada has missed two separate emission reduction targets (the 1992 Rio target and the 2005 Kyoto target) and is likely to miss the 2020 Copenhagen target as well. In fact, emissions in 2020 are expected to be nearly 20 percent above the target.
The landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2018, concluded that we have 12 years to avert climate catastrophe[iii].
We now have ten years left.
There is a remaining carbon “budget” of about 420 GtCO2 for a two-thirds chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 580 GtCO2 for a 50% chance[iv].
Emitting more than the budget permits dooms the world as we know it. Emitting less gives us a chance.
Starting now to drastically reduce emissions will permit a more measured and thoughtful path to the necessary goal – any delay makes achieving that goal so much more difficult.
Aviation is the one form of transportation that cannot practically avail itself of greener fuel sources.
Unfortunately, the Paris Accord failed to include aviation industry emissions in its targets, leaving action on aviation industry emissions to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), heavily influenced by the industry, and operating in secret[v].
Unchecked, or even with the mitigation measures proposed by the ICAO, projections are that aviation emissions will grow by up to 300% to become a substantial proportion of global emissions[vi], making a climate-safe future difficult or impossible ‑and undermining reductions achieved in other sectors.
That research also found that short‑haul flights emit roughly double the GHGs as medium‑ and long‑range flights, from between 75 and 95 grams per passenger kilometre to 155 for flight less than 500km.
To us, that means, going forward, at a minimum, no more subsidies of the aviation industry.
Particularly, that means no more to Porter, which specializes in short‑haul flights that can readily be replaced by fast electric trains.
Instead of handing money to Porter, that money needs to be devoted to decarbonizing transport by investing in rail networks powered by green electricity.
We do encourage your support for the workers at Porter who need help replacing their income, and finding employment in a more benign industry.
Saying no to a handout to Porter would be an important start to eliminating all subsidies to the aviation industry – a necessary step if we are to successfully meet the climate crisis challenge.
Brian Iler, Chair, CommunityAIR
CommunityAIR is one of 157 member organizations of the global coalition Stay Grounded, that campaigns for a just transportation system.
cc. Minister of Transport
Minister of Environment & Climate Change
Adam Vaughan, MP
[iv] See this chart found at http://folk.uio.no/roberan/img/GCB2018/PNG/s00_2018_Mitigation_Curves_1.5C.png
[v] See “Aviation’s Black Box” at https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/09/12/non-disclosure-agreements-closed-doors-rising-co2-uns-aviation-body/
[vi] See this ICAO chart, from page 18 of the paper found at