climate talks

Canada Could Actually Help Strengthen the World’s Climate Agreement in Paris

This is a guest post by Dale Marshall, national energy program manager with Environmental Defence.

There’s a lot of hope for the U.N. climate change summit starting this week. And Canada can play an important role in helping to ensure the Paris summit’s success. 

The goal of the Paris summit, officially called the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), is for a global agreement on climate action to be finalized. The world has let so much time pass without taking strong action on climate change that many are hoping the Paris agreement will be the one that finally ensures that climate change does not reach truly dangerous levels.

Expectations are high for the Canadian government. Prime Minister Trudeau has signalled that he wants his government to play a constructive role, and contribute to a strong outcome in Paris. Our new report, Canada’s Role at COP21, shows there are several ways that the Prime Minister can lend momentum to the climate summit, where a strong, progressive, Canadian voice can propel the talks forward.

First, the federal government must signal in very clear ways that this is not just a new government but one that takes climate change seriously. The previous government’s pledge for the Paris summit was the weakest in the G7 and assessed as inadequate by two separate analyses — one by four European think tanks and one by civil society groups. The new Canadian government needs to communicate in concrete terms that it will do much more.

Canada's New Climate Change Minister 'Excited' To Tackle Emissions. Is this For Real?!

It’s already big news that Canada now has a Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.

But it might be even more newsworthy that McKenna is promising that Canada will be a constructive player at the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris next month.

After years of international scrutiny for playing an obstructive role in international climate negotiations and a former environment minister who performed awkward linguistic gymnastics to avoid using the words “climate change,” McKenna’s enthusiasm signals a new era for Canada’s role on the global climate stage.  

Speaking outside Parliament Wednesday after her first day in office, McKenna said she is “really excited” to get down to work on Canada’s climate file.

It’s going to be a lot of hard work. This is a really important file. It’s a really important file to Canadians — both the environment but also tackling climate change. We need to be ambitious and I’m ready to work hard and get down to action,” McKenna told the CBC. “This is why I got into politics: to make a difference. I have three kids and this portfolio could not be more important to their future.”

Posse of Premiers to Join Trudeau at Paris Climate Summit

One month from now, arguably the most significant climate negotiations the world has ever seen will begin in Paris — and Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau plans on being there with a gaggle of premiers in tow, a show of Canadian representation unimaginable in previous years.

The COP21 UN-led climate summit is organized around one seemingly impossible outcome: a binding international climate agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she has been planning on attending the negotiations for several months. “I’ve already booked my ticket,” she said in a statement e-mailed to DeSmog Canada, adding she’s “delighted” Justin Trudeau will be in attendance.

I’m delighted…we’ll have a real full contingent. I think almost all premiers are already planning to attend.”

Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger confirmed he will attend the negotiations as well.

Yes, I think you’re going to see a pretty good turn out this year,” he told DeSmog Canada.

UN Climate Talks Face Long, Hard Road to Paris Next Winter

christiana figureres COP20

With yet another United Nations high level conference making little real progress on slowing climate change, a near miracle will be required if countries are to reach a meaningful and binding global agreement on carbon emissions in Paris next December.

The ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ document, agreed to on Sunday by 194 countries, is not a new “deal” for the climate, as conference observer Green Party Leader Elizabeth May pointed out. It is a 12-month work plan leading to the final meeting in Paris.

The conference shifted more responsibility for coping with climate change to the developing world. For the first time, an agreement calls on countries with rising economies, such as China, India and South Africa, to pledge action on climate change along with rich countries.

Developing countries have been expecting the North to provide billions-of-dollars to carry the burden of cutting carbon emissions in the South that are cause by northern industrialization. But a special fund set up for this purpose received barely a mention during key sessions.

Cities Take Meaningful Climate Action as Nations Lag

David Cadman at COP 19 in Warsaw

Canada and every other rich country need to crash their CO2 emissions 10% per year starting in 2014 to have any hopes of ensuring a not-super-dangerous climate for our grandchildren, said Kevin Anderson of Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.

“We can still do 2C but not the way we're going,” Anderson said on the sidelines of the UN climate talks, in Warsaw, Poland.

Anderson wasn't just referring to the lengthy-and-acronym-laden COP 19 process held inside Warsaw's 58,000-seat soccer stadium. It's too late for any normal approaches to emissions reductions. Preventing climate disaster requires a radical measures and our economic system is not up to the task he said.

“Massive amounts of capital needs to be directed towards a low-carbon future straight away.”

Canada Leads Race to Climate Disaster

Leona Aglukkaq UN Cop 19

WARSAW, Poland  Canada has led the way to scuttle the UN climate talks here in Warsaw, Poland taking with it nearly all hope of keeping global warming to less than 2C say members of various international organizations.

Along with 190-plus nations, the Harper government signed an international agreement to keep carbon emissions below 2C at the UN climate talks in Cancun in 2011. And yet here at these very difficult climate talks to create a new treaty to protect the climate, the Canadian delegation considers the 2C target “aspirational” and not especially important according to sources.

The government's official COP 19 Qs and As webpage fails to mention the 2C target.

Canada has unilaterally walked away from it's international climate commitments including the Kyoto Protocol and the 2009 Copenhagen Accord said Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics, a German climate science research organization.

Canadian Scientists Must Speak Out Despite Consequence, Says Andrew Weaver

If people don’t speak out there will never be any change,” says the University of Victoria’s award-winning climate scientist Andrew Weaver. 

And the need for change in Canada, says Weaver, has never been more pressing.

“We have a crisis in Canada. That crisis is in terms of the development of information and the need for science to inform decision-making. We have replaced that with an ideological approach to decision-making, the selective use of whatever can be found to justify [policy decisions], and the suppression of scientific voices and science itself in terms of informing the development of that policy.”

Canadian Youth Delegation: Tar Sands Creating "Commitment Issues" for Canada at COP18

Canada's leadership is failing to uphold international commitments to reduce the country's emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This failure on the global stage is the direct result of Canada's domestic policies, according to the Canadian Youth Delegation to COP18's recent report “Commitment Issues.”  

Canada's determination to develop Alberta's tar sands constitutes the nation's primary obstacle to progress on climate action. Bitumen extraction in the region “invalidates Canada's commitment to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius since pre-industrial times and sets a dangerous global precedent for extreme extraction,” the report states.
The Canadian government has participated in several significant international agreements and treaties aimed at reducing global levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, given the country's aggressive oil and gas development, these agreements only serve to highlight Canada's disregard for, rather than participation in, international efforts to prevent dangerous global warming.
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