Climate Action Network Canada Brief: 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Madrid, Spain | December 2 – 14, 2019)
November 13, 2019
Day by day, citizens from all corners of the world are saying “enough!” Enough with unresponsive, unambitious political leadership that continues to feed the root causes of inequality and climate injustice. Enough with economic and political systems that put profit before people and the interests of wealthy polluters before the interests of young people, workers, vulnerable communities and Indigenous peoples.
The science continues to reveal that without meaningful climate action, particularly from major emitters, it will be impossible to hold global warming to 1.5oC. Given this, it is essential that countries like Canada demonstrate their willingness to take transformative action and put our economy on a pathway to carbon neutrality before 2050.
Here in Canada, the environment is one of the most important priorities for Canadians. More than 60% of voters recently cast their ballots for political parties that made ambitious climate action a centerpiece of their campaign platforms. Following the 2019 election results, COP25 gives Canada a renewed opportunity to tell the world that it has heard the call from science and from its electorate, and announce that it will deliver a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement in time for the COP26 deadline.
Our Priorities for Canada at COP25:
1. Building Canada’s net-zero pathway
With the re-elected Liberal government having committed to a more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction goal and net-zero emissions by 2050, Canada must use COP25 to unveil its new climate commitments to the global community. That means communicating Canada’s intent to align its 2030 target with the latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to deliver a more ambitious NDC in time for the COP26 deadline, and to adjust its international climate financing and long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategy accordingly. Canada should see COP25 and COP26 as two key moments with one single objective to dramatically increase climate ambition and respond to the demands of people and science.
CAN-Rac Canada calculates that Canada’s fair share of the global effort to hold average warming to 1.5oC requires us to reduce domestic emissions to at least 60% below 2005 levels by 2030. Because of Canada’s historic and disproportionate responsibility for the climate crisis, we will also need to build on domestic emissions reductions by supporting developing countries to reduce their emissions and align their economies to the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. A part of this financial support involves Canada delivering its share of the donor country goal to mobilize USD $100 billion per year in climate financing by 2020. CAN-Rac calculates Canada’s share as at least USD $4 billion per year.
An ambitious NDC for Canada is more than just a new 2030 target. CAN-Rac expects that Canada will use COP25 to announce a domestic review and enhancement process such that the country can unveil the most comprehensive, science-based and inclusive NDC package possible by the COP26 deadline in 2020. Canada must also announce that it intends to implement an accountability mechanism to support the robust and transparent implementation of its NDC. Canada’s NDC should include a just transition package that protects workers, Indigenous peoples and communities who are impacted by the climate crisis and its associated economic and social effects.
Long-term low greenhouse-gas (GHG) development requires G20 countries in particular to show political conviction and phase out fossil fuel subsidies, implement more ambitious climate policies including carbon pricing, ensure financial flows are consistent with 1.5oC compatible pathways and adopt just transition plans to protect workers and communities.
2. Caring for those impacted by the climate crisis
The Global Commission on Adaptation has highlighted that without adaptation plans and policy, climate change may considerably impact development in global agriculture yields up to 30 percent by 2050. Storm surges will force hundreds of millions of people in coastal cities from homes. The costs of these environmental impacts are estimated to go beyond $1 trillion per year by 2050.
More countries and communities around the world are feeling the devastating impacts of the climate crisis every day. The rapid escalation of these impacts exposes how unprepared and/or under-resourced many countries and communities are to properly adapt to a changing climate and how significant the unmitigable losses and damages resulting from climate change are.
Canada must work to ensure that COP25 sends a signal to the world that communities will have the resources they need to adapt to climate change and address the losses and damages caused by climate impacts. CAN-Rac looks forward to Canada’s meaningful engagement at the event organized by the Adaptation Committee on Integrating local and Indigenous knowledge in adaptation action that will happen on 4 December 2019.
In Madrid, Canada should constructively engage in the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) in order to fully operationalize this important tool. The review needs to help answer the question of whether the WIM is fit-for-purpose to meet the challenge of losses and damages currently faced by vulnerable developing countries, whether it is capable of meeting future loss and damage needs based on scientific projections on impacts, including displacement, and how it will generate and transfer finance to meet those needs.
We encourage Canada to call for Loss and Damage to become a permanent agenda item in the negotiations. We also call for Canada to ask the Convention to conduct a Loss and Damage Gap Report, similar to the Adaptation and Emissions Gap reports, that analyzes the availability of loss and damage finance against the needs of developing countries to address climate impacts. We call for Canada to take leadership on opening up a new and additional stream of international climate finance in line with loss and damage needs.
3. Ensuring transparent cooperation and communication to unlock climate ambition and protect the most vulnerable
One year away before 2020, countries must indicate their willingness to operationalize all elements of the Paris Agreement work program. The Paris Agreement requires that parties are able to cooperate and trust each other in order to enhance ambition over time.
3.1 Cooperative approaches and Article 6 rules: CAN-Rac is concerned that a weak outcome related to Article 6 could jeopardize countries’ abilities to increase domestic climate ambition over time. Past lessons from carbon market mechanisms make it clear that a cooperative tool based on bad rules puts communities at risk of human rights abuses and puts the atmosphere at risk of hot air – fake emissions reductions and corrupt accounting.
At COP25 Canada should clearly communicate that cooperative approaches are not just about finding emissions reductions at a lower cost. Article 6 rules must be designed to deliver on the stated intent of the Article: to provide another mechanism to scale up the ambition of Parties’ climate action. That means ensuring iron-clad environmental integrity for flexible mechanisms tools and for the Paris Agreement. Before agreeing to use internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs), Canada must commit to present how it intends to do its fair share towards a global effort to contribute to limiting global warming to no more than 1.5oC without overshoot.
Canada must advocate for corresponding adjustments for both Article 6.2 and Article 6.4 to ensure transparent rules for the accounting of Article 6 credits. Canada must advocate for no banking of ITMOs generated under article 6.2 and the consideration of limits on the total number of article 6.2 units that can be issued each year, the lifetime of units issued under the Sustainable Development Mechanism (SDM) and limited banking for units of the SDM.
Canada must also assess how linked emissions trading systems (ETSs) in Canada, like the one between Quebec and California, will be affected by the guidelines under the UNFCCC for ITMOs to ensure consistency between the accounting rules for the participants of those systems and the accounting rules for ITMOs under Article 6.
Canada should say that it won’t use ITMOs to export low-carbon products in order to claim emission reductions that happen in countries where these transactions take place. This is a wrong interpretation of Article 6 rules and it also goes against Canada’s fair contribution to the global response to limiting global warming to 1.5oC.
Pre-2020 projects from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) must not be carried over by the new Sustainable Development Mechanism under Article 6.4.
All Article 6 activities must aim towards delivering an overall mitigation in global emission (OMGE) and include automatic partial cancellation to ensure OMGE in all projects producing mitigation outcomes. Using OMGE for both Article 6.2 and Article 6.4 has the potential of making international credits more acceptable because these credits, once cancelled, would directly benefit the climate and help lower emissions globally.
The human rights provisions in Article 6 must be stronger than those that were introduced in the CDM. Including strong safeguards for human rights protection for both Article 6.2 and Article 6.4 is essential. On Article 6.4 particularly, Canada must advocate for the inclusion of a requirement to assess all potential risks before approving a project that could issue mitigation outcomes and ensure effective public participation, and an independent system that would address remedies in case of violations of rights, by including provisions to avoid, minimize and mitigate risks during implementation processes, by requiring that those most vulnerable are protected and making it clear that projects that are not consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) shouldn’t be approved.
3.2 Common timeframes: at COP 25, Canada must join those countries that advocate for a single 5-year common time frame for NDCs from 2031. Aligning the pace of implementation to the 5-year ambition cycle could provide powerful signals for ramping up ambition and accelerating the pace of climate action.
4. Making climate action responsive to people’s needs:
4.1 Just transition and managed decline of fossil fuel production: Canada has made progress at the national and provincial levels toward just transition in the midst of accelerated phase-out of coal-fired electricity. We need to build on lessons learned from that work to develop a holistic Just Transition Act that rolls out proactive policies to protect workers and communities in the midst of disruption resulting from climate change and workforce changes like automation. This must be paired with economic planning that prioritizes a gradual phase-down of fossil fuel production. CAN-Rac calls on Canada to institutionalize its commitment to just transition and a clean economy by including these elements in its revised NDC.
Canada should engage constructively on all negotiations and discussions related to economic diversification and just transition. In Madrid, Canada must be a champion at the negotiations on the Forum on the Impact of the Implementation of Response Measures, which offers a space for countries and non-state actors to explore and address economic diversification and the process for a just transition while parties move away from fossil fuel development. For the forum to be a constructive space, Parties must use COP25 to adopt clear rules of procedure that will enable the work of the forum, and enable the recently created Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI) to officially begin its work as soon as possible.
Finally, we look to Canada to engage constructively at the Presidency event organized by the Minister of energy which could inform the Convention on best practices related to just transition and economic diversification in the energy sector.
4.2 Climate finance: Major emitters have not yet demonstrated sufficient progress on delivering climate finance and shifting global financial flows in order to align them with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The Chilean COP25 Presidency has proposed a Presidency event to be led by the Chilean Ministry of Finance to discuss these issues. We look to Canada to meaningfully engage with the Coalition of Ministers of Finance for Climate Action and bring the outcomes of the dialogue back to Canada. It is essential that Canada and other countries engage in a transparent process to ensure climate change is properly considered in macroeconomic policy, fiscal planning, trade policy, budgeting, public investment management, and procurement practices.
Canada should use the Pre-2020 Stocktake to announce that it will revise and increase its very low contribution to the Green Climate Fund’s first replenishment. COP25 serves as an ideal platform for Canada to present concrete plans on how it will finish delivering the CAD $2.65 billion in climate financing already committed by 2020, and how it will increase its 2020 and post-2020 climate financing to achieve its fair share of the overall effort.
CAN-Rac and the Canadian Coalition on Climate and Development (C4D) calculate Canada’s fair share of the US$100 billion targets as 3.8% or CAD $4 billion in total mobilization of annual climate finance. Canada’s current commitment of $800 million in annual international climate finance by 2020/21 is less than half this fair share. If we consider only the bilateral climate finance obligations, Canada should allocate $6.76 billion in principal purpose climate finance as its fair share in the five-year period between 2021/22 and 2025/26. Below we propose a pathway to reach Canada’s fair share only for bilateral commitments by 2025:
Table 1: A pathway to reach Canada’s fair share by 2025
|Percentage increase (millions of Canadian dollars)|
|2020/21||2021/22||2022/23||2023/24||2024/25||2025/26||Five Year Total|
|$800 (no change scenario)||$800||$800||$800||$800||$800||$4,000|
|$800 (fair-share scenario)||$945||$1,115||$1,315||$1,550||$1,830||$6,755|
|Fair Share Increase||18%||18%||18%||18%||18%|
Canada should acknowledge and encourage the leadership of subnational jurisdictions, such as the province of Quebec, in contributing to international climate finance. Quebec announced a pledge of CAD 3 million to the Adaptation Fund in 2019 and has also won the 2019 UN Global Climate Action Award for its International Climate Cooperation Program. At COP25, Canada should support the long-term financial sustainability for the Adaptation Fund. One key way to do so is for Canada to engage more closely with the Adaptation Fund Board and to support the creation of a replenishment process for the Adaptation Fund where Parties of the Convention can engage on.
4.3 Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform: The Canadian government has played a critical leadership role in the ongoing operationalization of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (the Platform), including through the creation of the Facilitative Working Group(FWG) – the first Constituted body with equal representation between Indigenous Peoples and States. The FWG has prepared its first two-year work-plan focusing on the three functions of the Platform: capacity for engagement; knowledge engage; and climate policies and actions. We strongly encourage all States to maintain the sense of collaboration shared between Indigenous Peoples and States in the work-plan and encourage them to pass the decision-text expeditiously. Once passed, we call on Canada to maintain its leadership role and commit to holding the first Northern American Regional Gathering of the Platform.
4.4 Gender Action Plan:
We look forward to Canada continuing to play a leadership role in the work related to the Gender Action Plan.
4.5 Human health and climate commitments: The Canadian government has recognized the importance of including health impacts in elements of its climate policy and messaging, including in its approach to coal phase-out and carbon pricing. There is an opportunity for Canada to provide leadership internationally by including health considerations in its NDC. When including these health considerations, the government should seek out input from public health institutions whether internally through the Public Health Agency of Canada or through a consultative process. This will increase the probability that climate change will be communicated in terms that resonate on a human level with the population, that health-care savings related to climate policies are included in overall accounting, and that mitigation initiatives secure the highest degree of health co-benefits and adaptation prevents climate-related harms.
5. Supporting science
At this COP25, the Second Periodic Review represents an important moment to agree on the need to revise the goal of the convention, the timeline of the second periodical review and how it coincides with the release of AR6 as well as the legal linkages with the Global Stocktake (GST). Canada should engage constructively to ensure the next review takes place in 2020 in accordance with past COP decisions. Canada should also use this moment to focus on the long-term objective of limiting global warming to 1.5oC in a fair and just manner.
We are grateful for Canada’s ongoing advocacy and support for the strong participation of civil society organizations in the UNFCCC.
Executive Director, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada
+1 902 412 8953
International Policy Analyst, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada
+1 514 975 1592
CAN-Rac Canada is a coalition of over 100 organizations from the country that cares about how a changing climate affects people, plants and wildlife. We work to advance solutions to managing our carbon pollution through sustainable and equitable development.