As world leaders prepare to descend on the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for this year’s United Nations climate conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to sit this one out.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not explain why Trudeau has decided to stay home but told Canada’s National Observer that the country’s hosting of an international biodiversity conference in Montreal later this year underscores the federal government’s commitment to climate change, even as the prime minister chooses not to attend the Egypt summit aimed at bringing down global greenhouse gas emissions.
Trudeau’s decision not to participate in COP27 stands in contrast to several other world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who are all expected to attend.
Instead, leading Canada’s delegation will be Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault, flanked by Canada’s top two ranking climate diplomats Catherine Stewart and Steven Kuhn, the climate change ambassador and chief negotiator for climate change, respectively.
“Canada has come a long way on climate action both at home and abroad, alongside international partners, since the coming into force of the Paris Agreement,” Guilbeault said in a statement. “But the reality is that we need to see a fundamental increase in global efforts.
“In Egypt, we will continue to push for the acceleration of concrete climate actions to reduce emissions and enhance resilience in communities and economies as the world faces the brunt of climate change impacts.”
Environment and Climate Change Canada says Canada’s priorities at the conference will be building international support for phasing out coal-fired electricity, bringing down methane emissions, stepping up climate finance commitments from other rich countries, protecting nature and cutting plastic waste.
Trudeau sitting on the sidelines sends the wrong signal, says Climate Action Network Canada international climate diplomacy manager Eddy Pérez.
“COP27 is Trudeau’s moment to present to the world his vision for COP15 (the Montreal biodiversity conference), and prepare leaders in Egypt to come to Montreal later in the year with the intention to coherently tackle biodiversity loss and devastating climate change,” he said. “But, if PM Trudeau does not attend the most important climate summit of the year, he will have to demonstrate that his absence is not a way for Canada to escape its climate responsibilities.
“This is a moment of polycrisis, we don’t choose the crises we collectively face, we either show up or we don’t.”
“We don’t choose the crises we collectively face, we either show up or we don’t," says @Eddypc, with @CANRacCanada. #COP27 #ClimateCrisis
The independent Climate Action Tracker rates Canadian climate policy as “highly insufficient” because its stated policies and actions are not enough to avert catastrophic global warming. “Highly insufficient” means that as it stands, Canada is on track for 4 C of warming –– far higher than the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise as close to 1.5 C as possible.
Trudeau attended last year’s climate conference in Glasgow, where he emphasized his government’s promise to cap oil and gas sector emissions. Last month, Canada published draft guidelines for how the emissions cap could work but is not aiming to finalize the rules until early next year.