MARRAKECH, Morocco (November 14, 2016) – As the crucial second week of negotiations opens at the United Nations climate conference in Marrakech, environmental and civil society groups are calling on the Canadian government to ensure that the early adoption of the Paris Agreement translates into faster action and deeper global carbon cuts.
The urgency of the climate crisis, combined with the powerful economic opportunities in climate action, prompted more than 100 countries representing more than half the world’s emissions to ratify the Paris Agreement in less than a year-a historic record for any global treaty. This week, Canada has to step up as a global leader and make sure the governments gathered in Marrakech take the opportunity for early action, rather than squandering it.
“Canada played a lead role in hammering out a historical agreement in Paris, but that was just the beginning“ said Dale Marshall, National Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “COP 22 is all about getting the details right–making sure that implementation lives up to the spirit and hope of the Paris Agreement, and that all the administrative pieces are in place by 2018.”
News coverage in the first week of COP 22 focused on the election of Donald Trump as United States president. The countries gathered in Marrakech know that the threat of climate change is far greater than the threat of a Trump presidency- and that no one country, and no one head of state, can stop implementation of the Paris Agreement, which is in every country’s best interest.
“Already, we see countries and blocs stepping up to fill the leadership vacuum that Donald Trump seems so eager to create. In the United States, it’ll be up to state governments, cities, business, and civil society to take up the slack, by expanding the work they’re already doing,” says Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network. “Canada is and must continue to do whatever is necessary to maintain the spirit of Paris and deliver on an ambitious national climate plan in North America.”
Canadian trade union representatives in Marrakech are seeing progress toward just transition policies that ensure workers and their families are not lost in the shift from fossil fuels to the low-carbon economy.
“COP 22 took a big step this week in shaping a future that assures a just transition for workers,.” says Lucien Royer of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Over the next two years, countries will be doing the tough, technical work that is needed to keep working people in the picture. And trade unions will be at the table”.
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In addition to maintaining the momentum to implement the Paris Agreement, there are several ways in which Canada can help advance the negotiations:
Move Farther, Faster: Countries’ greenhouse gas commitments under the Paris Agreement, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), take effect in 2020. But even if all countries meet their NDC targets, the world will still be far from the goal of holding average global warming below 1.5°C. There are several mechanisms in the agreement that allow countries to increase their level of ambition in reducing emissions, and an important opportunity is at COP 24 in 2018. To make that happen, Canada must advocate for the Moroccan government, which holds the COP presidency, to begin planning over the next year, so that the “Facilitative Dialogue” in 2018 draws countries toward faster climate commitments and deeper carbon cuts.
Show Us the Money: Developed countries have committed $100 billion per year, beginning in 2020, to help developing countries reduce their emissions. Canada’s fair share of that total is $4 billion per year. So far, the country has pledged $2.65 billion over five years, the 2020 pledge being CAN$800 million. There are two things Canada must do to meet its climate finance commitment: Increase government funding and push for innovative funding mechanisms (an international financial transaction tax, or a levy on international shipping fuels) to help fund the international institutions that distribute climate financing to developing countries.
Help Vulnerable Countries Adapt: With developing countries and vulnerable communities already feeling the effects of climate change, it’s urgent to bring climate change adaptation to the centre of the COP process. Canada can play a lead role by committing 50% of its international climate finance contribution to greenhouse gas reductions and 50% to adaptation, and advocate for a global financing roadmap based on the same formula.