McKenna and Dion

Catherine McKenna and Stéphane Dion photo by Megan Nourse

The 90-day countdown is almost on for Trudeau to meet his election promise of developing new emissions targets post-COP21. The day before the UN climate negotiations’ official start, Ministers Catherine McKenna and Stéphane Dion (Environment and Climate Change and Foreign Affairs, respectively) addressed press on Canada’s contributions and goals for the conference.

Canada is entering COP with the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) set out by the Conservative government last May. That target (reducing GHG emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030) has been widely criticized for not meeting the World Resource Institute’s best practices.

“What we’ve committed to is, within 90 days, sitting down with [the Provinces] and starting the hard work to come up with a Canadian framework,” McKenna said. The federal government will work with provinces towards new target and a plan for getting there, McKenna said in the press briefing. Just ahead of COP21, Prime Minister Trudeau announced $2.65-billion over five years to the UN Green Climate Fund, which supports climate change mitigation in developing nations.

“This demonstrates that Canada is at the table,” McKenna said of the funding. “Canada is back.”

“90 days after the Paris conference, the Prime Minister will call another meeting with the premiers of the provinces and we’re confident that we’ll come up with a very compelling plan to be sure that Canada will do its share,” Dion said.

McKenna and Dion both said the financial contribution is Canada’s fair share. Carbon pricing, Dion said, is also on the government’s radar. Currently, BC, Alberta and Quebec have a carbon tax, Ontario has announced plans to implement a cap-and-trade system.

The government is clear that all countries need to be at the negotiating table in order to make a successful agreement. There was some inconsistency in McKenna’s statements about the legally binding nature of the agreement. The government wants countries to be legally bound to.

“Countries will be legally bound to provide targets. The actual target that each country provides will not be legally binding, likely because that is a difficulty with many countries including the United States,” McKenna said. Essentially, the agreement must avoid an international treaty that legally limits GHG emissions, which in the U.S. would require ratification by the Republican-controlled congress.

Trudeau will speak at the COP21 leaders event Monday, which will be attended by an unprecedented 150 world leaders.

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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