The 26th Conference of the Parties, or COP26, is behind us and the climate crisis continues. These two things we know.
Public post-mortems on the latest global climate conference are underway, with assessments ranging from apocalyptic to cautiously optimistic.
I’ll leave the handicapping to others.
This was my 19th COP since I attended the very first one, in Berlin in 1995, as a twenty-something activist. I kept going back because, as a climate activist, there is no better opportunity to encourage world leaders to go faster and further with ambitious but pragmatic measures to slow and stop climate change.
This year was different: My first COP representing Canadians as your Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Amid the ups and downs of summit diplomacy, one thing stood out that I wasn’t fully prepared for in Glasgow.
Inside those negotiating rooms, and behind the closed doors of my bilateral meetings, I heard a genuine appreciation and respect for the constructive role Canada is playing in the climate fight.
In fact, Canada’s work with Germany to chart out a credible path to achieve the US $100 billion in climate finance for developing countries was described by some as saving the credibility of COP26 before the summit even started.
Canadians need to hear this. We are witnessing the devastating impacts of a changing climate in real time. The scale, ferocity and frequency of severe weather events, like we are seeing in British Columbia, makes us allergic to climate boastfulness. So here is my assessment of COP26.
Canadians can take some quiet pride in the fact that over the past few years we have accomplished a lot, from cities and small businesses right up to the federal government, to put Canada on a path to achieve the kinds of emissions reductions we’ve been promising since the 1990s — and too often have failed to deliver.
In Glasgow, our international partners noticed.
The really hard work continues, on 197 domestic fronts around the globe, now that the COP26 delegates have gone home, writes @s_guilbeault #COP26 #TogetherForOurPlanet #GreenerTomorrow
When Canada, with one of the four largest oil and gas reserves in the world, committed to cap emissions from the oil and gas sector at current levels, that got attention.
When an energy producer like us committed to lead by cutting methane emissions in the oil and gas sector by at least 75 per cent by 2030, we received a second look.
Our boreal forests and peat lands are one of the four biggest natural stores of carbon on the planet. So when Canada made the clear link at COP26 between the climate fight and saving nature and biodiversity as two sides of the same coin, the world took notice.
Canada is recognized internationally as a leader and innovator in pricing pollution. Our price trajectory to 2030 is one of the most ambitious in the world, while putting more money back into the pockets of most Canadians.
Our domestic action on pollution pricing is what gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the licence to propose a global goal of tripling the amount of emissions covered by carbon pricing, from just over 20 per cent to 60 per cent by 2030. Again, the world took notice.
Canadians are quietly demonstrating a path — a way real climate action can be done — by a country that is both a big energy producer, a big consumer, and home to some of the world’s largest intact ecosystems.
No one is doing a victory lap here. Far from it. The climate crisis is happening.
The really hard work continues, on 197 domestic fronts around the globe, now that the COP26 delegates have gone home.
Canadians have given us an extremely ambitious climate mandate. That in itself is a sign of progress. As a lifelong environmentalist, I feel the responsibility of those expectations.
I have four growing kids and I can tell you I don’t win every argument at home. International climate conferences just raise the stakes. I’ll be travelling across the country by train early in the new year to speak with as many Canadians as possible about taking our country’s climate ambitions to the next level, here in Canada and for the next COP.
We’re going to fight the good fight — for the sake of my family, all Canadians and the planet.