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Classified in: Environment, Business
Subjects: SVY, ENI, NTA

Climate change disproportionately affects marginalized communities - Whole-of-government approach needed to achieve climate equity in Canada

A new report by Deloitte Canada is the first of a series exploring what it will take to equitably transition to a net-zero society

TORONTO, Sept. 13, 2023 /CNW/ - Climate change is not neutral ?it impacts populations disproportionately along social and economic fault lines. A new report by Deloitte Canada, Achieving climate equity in Canada: Mobilizing the whole of government, argues that any response to climate change must consider climate equity to prevent marginalizing people further, and that a whole-of-government approach is needed to transition to a low-carbon future.

The report explores how low-income individuals and communities, particularly those belonging to racialized and Indigenous groups, are more likely to be victims of severe climate events and the actions taken to mitigate climate change. For example, limited financial capital leaves marginalized populations less able to adapt and rebuild after climate catastrophes. Relocation, sometimes necessary after such events, brings economic and spiritual burdens, especially for Indigenous communities deeply connected to their land. Air pollution causes up to seven million deaths globally each year, including 10,000 deaths in Canada annually, and marginalized communities face this burden at a disproportionate rate.  

This discrimination, often referred to as 'environmental racism' exacerbates existing inequities, including poverty, lack of access to healthcare, food insecurity, and unemployment.

"Historical and current racial disparities have contributed to a higher proportion of low-income communities in Canada being comprised of people of colour, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples," says Jennifer Shulman, Partner, Economic Advisory Services & ESG for Deloitte Canada. "Unfortunately, these same groups are often excluded from government decision-making processes, further marginalizing their voices and needs."

To achieve positive outcomes, the report argues, climate change solutions must explicitly prioritize the holistic wellbeing of people and their communities, taking into account the needs and realities of marginalized, racialized, and vulnerable populations. An equitable transition goes beyond workforce modernization, encompassing social empowerment, community resilience, economic diversification, environmental equity, and the sovereignty and leadership of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

"The good news is that government, at all levels, is well positioned to address the complexity and scale required to achieve climate equity," says Shulman. "With broad networks of partners, they can tap into a wide ecosystem of stakeholders with the expertise, resources, and influence needed for system-wide changes. Indigenous leaders in particular must be invited to the table to collaborate with the private sector and government. They have the knowledge and expertise to drive a more equitable approach to establishing a sustainable economy."

However, progress in climate change response and equitable transition in Canada is complex and challenging. The country's vast geography presents unique challenges in applying solutions across diverse regions. Additionally, a diverse population with varying needs and a complex political system further complicate the path forward. Declining trust in all levels of government adds yet another layer of difficulty, making widespread consensus difficult to achieve.

Urgent action is needed to address the disproportionate impacts of climate change on marginalized communities. By prioritizing climate equity and involving all stakeholders, including marginalized populations, Canada can pave the way for a more just and sustainable future.

About Deloitte Canada:

Deloitte provides audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and service to address clients' most complex business challenges. Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Our global Purpose is making an impact that matters. At Deloitte Canada, that translates into building a better future by accelerating and expanding access to knowledge. We believe we can achieve this Purpose by living our shared values to lead the way, serve with integrity, take care of each other, foster inclusion, and collaborate for measurable impact.

To learn more about Deloitte's approximately 330,000 professionals, over 11,000 of whom are part of the Canadian firm, please connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

SOURCE Deloitte & Touche

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