Climate: 'Canada's dissonances highlighted' at COP27 | COP27

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Climate: “Canada's dissonances highlighted” at COP27 | COP27

If he campaigned for the threshold of 1.5°C warming is maintained, however, Canada entered COP27 without raising its GHG emissions reduction target.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault led the Canadian delegation to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh in the absence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Without a “clear mandate” given by the Trudeau government to its Minister of the Environment, Canada failed to stand out at COP27 or demonstrate its leadership in the fight against climate change, according to experts and participants at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in Egypt.

Preceded by its reputation as a bad student among industrialized countries, Canada returns from COP27 with a lackluster record, even disappointing, according to Philippe Simard, advisor at Copticom, who participated on site in the Conference of the Parties on climate change.

The Canadian delegation – led by Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault in the absence of Justin Trudeau – arrived in Egypt with a hard-to-defend history: Canada has the worst emissions average of greenhouse gases (GHG) per capita among the G20 countries, where it also ranks second in terms of subsidies granted to companies operating in the fossil fuel sector.

The world's fourth largest oil producer, Canada has seen its GHG emissions increase by 13.1% from 1990 to 2020. The oil and gas sector, the country's largest emitter, has increased by 74% over the same period.

To demonstrate its leadership, Canada worked hard at COP27 to ensure that the final declaration did not compromise the objectives established nor the efforts made to achieve them during previous negotiations, namely in Paris in 2015 and in Glasgow the last year. Minister Steven Guilbeault said Canadian delegates took a firm stance that the maximum global warming target would be kept at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, despite opposition from some countries.

On the issue of reducing GHG emissions, we saved the furniture, said Mr. Guilbeault in an interview with Live with Patrice Roy, disappointed that the international community has not been able to make gains.

However, Canada showed up in Sharm el-Sheikh without having raised its target for reducing GHGs, as agreed at [COP26] in Glasgow last year, notes Philippe Simard.

With its objective of reducing its emissions by 40 to 45% by 2030 compared to the level of 2005, Canada is however far from doing its fair share to really contribute to respecting the threshold of 1.5°C, he recalls.

Proof, if there is one, of the lack of political will of the Canadian government, this example testifies to the absence of a “clear mandate” granted by Justin Trudeau to his Minister of Public Affairs. Environment, according to Mr. Simard.

“Criticized for his lack of leadership, Mr. Guilbeault will not emerge unscathed from this COP. »

— Philippe Simard, Advisor at Copticom

I have the impression that we sent an expert on these questions, but giving him very little concrete room for manoeuvre, maintains Annie Chaloux, professor at the University of Sherbrooke and specialist in governance and environmental policies.

While it has come out in favor of creating a loss and damage mechanism for the most vulnerable countries, Canada has not significantly increased its funding to the United States. x27; adaptation to climate change.

The government has announced that it will end subsidies to the fossil fuel sector in the first half of 2023. But on the question of its responsibility in terms of hydrocarbons, the federal government has played it safe. Minister Guilbeault reiterated that the government is legislating in accordance with its areas of jurisdiction by tackling pollution rather than reducing oil and gas production in the country.

What happened in two weeks [at the COP] highlighted the dissonances in Canadian positions, says Ms. Chaloux.

Although Canada has vigorously defended the maintenance of the target recommended by the IPCC, it is imperative that it mobilize the same efforts to implement, at home, policies that make it possible to achieve it, underlines for his part Albert Lalonde, project manager at the David Suzuki Foundation.

It's ironic to see Canada defending this element of the text while its domestic policies continue to contribute to the expansion [of the use] of fossil fuels, notes the activist in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The inclusion of representatives of companies working in the fossil fuel sector within the Canadian delegation raised eyebrows. A few days after the opening of COP27, nearly thirty environmental organizations signed an open letter demanding the expulsion of oil companies from the Canadian pavilion.

Pleading for a plurality of voices to be heard, Minister Guilbeault said he believed it would be counterproductive to “censor” these companies.

The downside is that they were not invited to make commitments that would send a strong signal [according to which] they want to be part of the solution, nuance Philippe Simard.


Instead of presenting a decarbonization strategy along the entire production chain, companies have put forward technologies that store and sequester carbon. However, these “false solutions” postpone the primary strategy for combating climate change, namely the end of the use of fossil fuels, according to Mr. Simard.

By accrediting these lobbyists – who were more than 600 to participate in this COP, a 25% increase compared to the Glasgow summit – States like Canada have given them a place of choice when they do not ” proof of seriousness,” adds Annie Chaloux. This poses an extremely serious problem, this influence that these groups can have on the whole process, she says.

We do not invite the tobacco industry to international WHO conventions, she illustrates.

The fact that Canada persists in supporting this sector of activity, despite the IPCC reports which urge States to put an end to the production and transport of hydrocarbons, “no longer makes sense in 2022”, deplores Ms. Chaloux.


“Hydrocarbons isn't even the elephant anymore, it's the mammoth in the room. »

— Annie Chaloux, professor at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences at the University of Sherbrooke

Added to this controversial invitation is Canada's refusal to #x27;include in the final declaration the phasing out of all fossil fuels, not just coal. “A gross insult to common sense,” accuses Albert Lalonde of the David Suzuki Foundation.

India, which argued for the definition to be extended to oil and gas, wanted to better distribute the burden of the transition on industrialized countries rather than maintaining pressure on developing countries.

< p class="e-p">To the chagrin of environmental groups, this mention was not retained by COP27 delegates.

In Sharm el-Sheikh, Minister Guilbeault said he preferred to focus on implementing policies that reduce GHG emissions. The Canadian government, he recalled, has faced legal challenges when it wanted to act, especially when imposing carbon pricing.

If it had been necessary to choose a bad example, this one would have been indicated, according to Annie Chaloux. The Supreme Court of Canada has declared this federal policy, challenged by corporations and provinces, to be constitutional. The government went all the way and they won! she summarizes. If we are serious about this desire to fight against climate change, we will take the necessary steps.

Convinced that its plan to reduce GHG emissions for 2030 will be sufficient to meet its climate commitments, the Trudeau government is banking on its strategy to cap emissions from the oil and gas sector, the details of which are to be announced in 2023.

Philippe Simard calls for the adoption of a rigorous framework, with intermediate targets and accountability mechanisms – all elements that have been lacking in previous plans and which have contributed to the successive failures of the objectives to be achieved .

Canada has dragged its feet long enough in meeting climate targets, he says. If he's really serious about success, he'll have to put the structures in place to make it happen.

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