At the end of the month, Canada will join nearly 200 countries at the United Nations climate conference in setting goals and making essential pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions both around the world and at home.
The climate change conference, also known as COP, short for Conference of the Parties, has brought the world together since 1995. The talks bring together politicians, scientists, environmental activists, climate experts and the media from the 197 member countries of the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to establish and work towards global climate goals. This year, COP26 will take place at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.
For Canada, the only G7 country other than the US where emissions have risen every year since the Paris Agreement, COP26 could push decision makers to make unfathomable climate promises. Last month’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report put additional pressure on this year’s COP by reporting that the global goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 ° C is slipping out of reach.
The UN has outlined four main goals for the event:
- Keep 1.5 C of warming within reach and ensure net zero emissions by 2050.
- Preserving natural habitats by maintaining and restoring ecosystems, including preparing communities for the impacts of climate change.
- Deliver on rich countries’ promise to contribute at least $ 100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020, and pressure international financial institutions to contribute to net zero initiatives.
- Work together to finalize the rules proposed during the Paris Agreement and collaborate to address the climate crisis.
Here’s how Canada can help the planet achieve those goals and what needs to be done.
For Canada, the only G7 country other than the US where emissions have risen every year since the Paris Agreement, # COP26 could push decision makers to make unfathomable climate promises. Here’s the breakdown of what it might look like.
Goal 1: Keep 1.5 C of warming within reach and ensure net zero emissions by 2050
The Canadian Net Zero Emissions Liability Act, also known as Bill C-12, was adopted in June. By setting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets every five years between 2030 and 2050, the law aims to guide the country to net zero by 2050.
C-12 requires the federal government to create a new climate plan that outlines policies to help Canada meet those emissions targets and, for the first time, requires them to detail where emissions reductions will come from and in what year they will be achieved, Catherine explains. Abreu, executive director of the new environmental organization Destino Cero. Abreu is the former executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada (CANC), an organization representing more than 130 Canadian climate NGOs.
Canada setting those goals is essential for the world to achieve its goal, and more information on how that can happen could be detailed at COP26.
Another piece of the puzzle is the goal of Canada’s Paris Agreement. The country originally pledged to cut emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised Canada’s commitment from 40% to 45% below levels from 2005 to 2030. However, Abreu says it is not yet the 60 percent The CANC cut estimated that it was Canada’s fair share as a wealthy nation.
“In 2019, our emissions were only one percent lower than in 2005, so we are trying to reach 40 to 45 percent less than in 2005 by 2030. And ideally, more than that, because we should be delivering more like a rich nation that has the capacity to act, ”he says.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Objective 2: Preserve natural habitats by maintaining and restoring ecosystems, including preparing communities for the impacts of climate change.
There are historical barriers to indigenous participation and feedback in climate conferences, specifically in conversations about nature and land. Abreu says Canada has a responsibility to change that.
“That is a change that we must begin to see in Canada, in fact it is a great call that we are hearing from indigenous communities, who are really concerned that nature is commercialized in that way,” says Abreu, pointing to logging as an example. .
Work on nature-based climate solutions should intersect with climate finance, says Michael Polanyi, Nature Canada’s leader on climate change and nature-based solutions.
Adapting to a changing climate reduces its impacts on communities, and nature-based adaptations, such as restoring wetlands, can help preserve biodiversity.
Since nature has a vital role to play in fighting climate change – wetlands, forests and oceans absorb and store carbon – money to support preservation is key, Polanyi says.
“There are definitely opportunities for Canada to move forward. It seems countries around the world are embracing the goal of protecting 30 percent of nature, land and water by 2030. I think that’s something Canada has been a leader in and can push forward, ”he says, referring to to the promise of the liberals. .
Another important point to address is the myth that Canada’s forests are carbon sinks. Once able to remove large amounts of CO2 from the air, the country’s forests now emit more carbon than they absorb.
It is not new, for him last 15 years, forests have contributed to emissions. The most recent records from 2016 show that Canada’s forests emitted around 78 megatons of emissions that year.
Forests are essential when it comes to nature-based climate solutions, says Polanyi, who explains that Canada has a reporting problem when it comes to forest carbon.
“On the one hand, (the federal government) takes credit for the carbon captured by intact forests. On the other hand, they do not count the emissions that occur due to forest fires in those same forests, ”says Polanyi.
Goal 3: Deliver on rich countries’ promise to contribute at least $ 100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020, and pressure international financial institutions to contribute to net zero initiatives.
Canada, contributing its fair share to the promise of $ 100 billion in climate finance for developing countries, is part of meeting this goal, as is recognizing its historic failure as a wealthy nation to contribute to the crisis. climatic, says Abreu.
Rich countries that emit the most must collaborate to help less-favored countries, which are hardest hit by climate change, adapt to warmer temperatures and achieve their climate goals, he says, especially as Canada continues to miss targets. carbon reduction.
“That means Canada must dramatically increase its climate finance offers,” he says.
In June, Trudeau doubled Canada’s international climate finance commitment from $ 2.65 billion to $ 5.3 billion in five years.
Canada and Germany are co-leading the development of an international climate finance action plan ahead of COP26 to help less wealthy countries tackle and fight climate change.
However, Eddy Perez, CANC’s manager of international climate diplomacy, says that Canada’s fair share for five years should be in the $ 9 billion range.
The action plan with Germany is a good step, says Pérez, as is Canada’s commitment to double its financial commitment (a promise that other countries, such as Italy, have not made). But it should be accompanied by a follow-up from Canada on the delivery of funding and encourage other countries to do the same once COP26 starts. He emphasizes the importance of reaching the $ 100 billion goal for the overall success of the conference.
“Because vulnerable countries are just fed up. There is a lot of frustration right now about climate finance, “he says, adding that the world” needs to figure this out before COP26, so Canada’s responsibility beyond meeting the commitment is also to make sure others contribute. money. “And that we close the $ 100 billion gap as soon as possible.”
Objective 4: Work together to finalize the rules proposed during the Paris Agreement and collaborate to address the climate crisis.
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement directly recognizes the idea of a global carbon price, says Isabelle Turcotte, director of federal policy at the Canadian think tank Pembina Institute. Summarizing this leftover article from COP21, the 2015 climate conference where the Paris agreement was first reached, will be a major milestone at this year’s climate conference.
Still to be fully negotiated, the article focuses on how countries will collaborate through Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMO), which Turcotte says are like a global carbon credit system. These credits would be exchanged voluntarily by the countries, in the hope that richer countries will buy ITMO from poorer countries that cannot implement mitigation projects without this exchange.
This ideal scenario, Turcotte explains, increases the climate ambition of high- and low-income countries.
Part of what makes the discussion about ITMOs so complicated is how fossil fuels work in the system.
For example, the current system means that if a poorer country burns coal for energy and wanted to import liquefied natural gas from a richer country as an alternative, it could and could share ITMOs with the exporting country.
Using fossil fuels to acquire ITMO would be a lot like a subsidy for industry, which Turcotte explains is not aligned with the Paris Agreement. The eligibility of which projects will work on the ITMO system is still on the table; therefore, the results of the ITMO will be key at COP26, he says.
Canada has a particular role to play in Article 6 because of the cap and trade system that Quebec and California share, which allows companies from both places to buy and sell carbon credits on each other’s carbon market, he explains. Abreu.
“So for Canada to count into our national inventory the emission reductions that Quebec is basically buying from California, we need Article 6 to be working,” she says.
“That is why Canada is so interested in these negotiations.”