Map view of Paris via Shutterstock

Canada has a lot of catching up to do in terms of mitigating global climate change. That’s the main message of Climate Action Network Canada’s (CANC) Road Map to Paris, a list of recommendations for the Canadian government to consider during COP preparations and negotiations.

The sentiment behind the road map is that Canada needs to do its “fair share” of climate change mitigation.

“It includes not just what we will do at home to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions but it also includes what we will contribute financially to the world to help other countries move forward as well,” said CANC executive director Louise Comeau.

The recommendations are to try harder to meet 2020 domestic emissions reduction targets, strengthen our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) and endorse a robust “Paris Package.”

Canada has made emissions reduction targets under the Harper government, but making these promises is not the issue. Last May, then environment minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Canada’s new target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Never mind the fact that Canada is on track to miss the commitment made in 2009’s Copenhagen climate conference to reduce emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, the new target also fails to meet the best practices recommended by the World Resource Institute.

The current goal in mitigating climate change is to keep global warming well below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. Therefore the “best practice” for emissions reductions targets reflects a country’s “fair share” of limited global warming. Transparency in how government will achieve targets is also essential.

"Current targets are not in line with what we need,” Comeau said. Canada will need to cut national GHG emissions by 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 in order to contribute our “fair share.” We also need to contribute up to $4 billion to international funds to help other countries meet their emissions targets.

Increased provincial engagement is needed to truly change Canada’s climate change mitigation. Previous agreements like the Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen targets were unsuccessful in Canada because they were “top-down” approaches, said Comeau.

What’s different now and about COP21, Comeau says, is Canadian provinces are engaged and have made significant commitments. Provincial governments have jurisdiction on energy and transportation, which are key areas for reaching targets.

“Federal, municipal and provincial coordination is needed,” Comeau said.

Another piece missing from past targets is embedding it in law, which Comeau says is a fundamental requirement.

The Road Map is CANC’s best effort to help our new government begin repairing Canada’s global climate reputation. They along with many of the 950 NGO’s that are a part of Climate Action Network, will be attending COP21, advocating that Canada take it’s fair share of responsibility.

Megan is A\J's editorial manager, a lover of journalism, and graduate of the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. 


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