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COP24 delivers progress, but nations fail to heed warnings of scientists

COP24 delivers progress, but nations fail to heed
warnings of scientists

UN conference reaffirms Paris Agreement commitments, leaving Canada and other countries with a lot more to do at home
 

KATOWICE, Poland, December 15, 2018 - The annual United Nations climate change conference in Katowice (COP24) ended today, making progress on some issues but putting the real work of addressing climate change squarely on the plates of national governments.

The conference took place in the wake of the IPCC’s latest report, which warned the world of the dangerous impacts should global warming exceed 1.5 ̊C, including more devastating wildfires, floods and famine. Like many countries, Canada is far from a trajectory that is compatible with a 1.5 ̊C world, and needs to commit to getting on track now.

Canadian negotiators played a constructive role over the two weeks of the conference, helping navigate the sometimes challenging dynamics between various countries. Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change, arrived in the second week and worked hard to build on their efforts and achieve a balanced outcome.

Yet Canada failed to reiterate its earlier signal that it will increase the ambition of its climate pledge ahead of 2020, as other countries have done. This represents a missed opportunity to show leadership on the world stage. It is critical that Minister McKenna shows this leadership when she returns home, by announcing that Canada will have a process in 2019 to put the country on track to a 1.5 ̊C-compatible climate pledge.

COP24 was largely focused on the “rulebook” for the Paris Agreement, which provides the details of how the climate action promised in Paris will be implemented and measured. Negotiations dragged long, but ultimately made progress on a number of key elements, including climate finance. More work will need to be done to build trust in the regime, but the progress at COP24 reaffirms the durability of the Paris Agreement, and shows that countries remain committed to cooperating to address the climate crisis.

Members of Climate Action Network Canada made the following statements at the conclusion of COP24:

“We celebrate the hard work of Canadian negotiators and Minister McKenna at COP24. What matters most is what everyone does when they leave Katowice and go home. The last two weeks have seen plenty of lovely declarations of countries’ commitments to ambition, but precious few specifics on how individual governments plan to to respond to the devastating climate chaos of 2018 and deliver the climate action that science demands. Countries like Canada need to follow the leadership of braver, poorer nations who, in the face of floods and fires, have told the world exactly how they plan to get to a 1.5°C compatible climate pledge.”
– Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada catherineabreu@climateactionnetwork.ca | (WhatsApp) +1 902-412-8953

“Canada's trade unions applaud Canada and other parties for signing on to the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration. We hope to see a commitment to a just transition that is tied to human rights and helps drive a more ambitious climate action plan designed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.”
– Donald Lafleur, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress Contact: jduff@clcctc.ca | +1 416-707-0349

“In Paris, countries agreed to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, a critical threshold for our survival. Despite Canada's commitment, our country is among the worst carbon emitters per capita. Back home, I ask the Canadian government to tell us how it intends to assume its fair share of the climate burden to protect the rights of children and future generations.”
— Catherine Gauthier, Executive Director, ENvironnement JEUnesse cgauthier@enjeu.qc.ca

“With this year’s COP located in the heart of Poland’s coal region, it served a unique opportunity to forward the global momentum for coal phase-out and a just transition for workers. A prompt coal phase-out is a crucial step in responding to the latest IPCC report. Canada has shown great leadership by finalizing its own coal phase-out regulations this week, and by continuing to lead — with the UK — the Powering Past Coal Alliance. The PPCA membership has grown from 25 to 80 over the last year, and includes governments, utilities, and financial institutions. The past two weeks have seen great discussions between different stakeholders on how to respond to the increasingly poor economics of coal and implement the phase-out while addressing the needs for a just transition.”
– Binnu Jeyakumar, Clean Energy Program Director, Pembina Institute binnuj@pembina.org | +1 587-436-3667

“Citizens all over the world have been out in the streets demanding ambitious climate action from our governments. Negotiators and ministers must now go back home to their citizens and show them that the progress that has been made at COP24 will translate into concrete action to protect our world for future generations.”
Sidney Ribaux, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Équiterre Contact: cgraynauld@equiterre.org | +1 514-605-2000

“Talks in Katowice once again hinged on long-standing differences between developed and developing countries – respectively, those most responsible for causing climate change and those suffering its most dire consequences. The last-minute compromise adopted falls short of the predictable and accountable rulebook needed to defend the development gains of recent generations and set the world on a more sustainable pathway. It now falls to countries like Canada to take concrete, ambitious and transparent actions to demonstrate their commitment to a greener and healthier future that protects human rights, harnesses the power of women and girls, responds to the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities, and upholds its obligations under the Paris Agreement and the $100-billion roadmap.”
– Shaughn McArthur, Policy and Influence Lead, CARE Canada shaughn.mcarthur@care.ca | +1 613-286-0821

“While an announcement to increase Canada's ambition in 2020 is positive progress, 2020 is one year too late. Canada needs to double its emissions reductions targets to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030 in order to be in line with 1.5 ̊C. It must also implement legislation to follow through with these commitments. Along with revising its domestic targets, Canada must redouble its commitments on climate finance by providing a minimum of $4 billion in annual climate finance, including $1.9 billion in annual public sector contributions, to assist developing countries with adaptation and mitigation measures. It is imperative that Canada act immediately, in order to contribute its fair share towards the global collective emissions reductions that are necessary to preserve a climate below 1.5 ̊C.”
– Colton Kasteel, COP24 Youth Delegation Lead, BC Council for International Cooperation colton@bccic.ca | +1 (604) 899-4475

“As COP24 comes to an end, it is explicitly clear that bold climate action and radical raised ambition is needed to avert this climate crisis. The Canadian government must do better by cutting ties with big oil, respecting Indigenous consent and sovereignty and accepting the historical responsibilities it has to marginalized and frontline communities at home and across the world.”
– Tina Oh, Canadian Youth Delegation tina.oh@dal.ca | +1 780 268 6856

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As Canada’s primary network of organizations working on climate change and energy issues, CAN-Rac is a coalition of more than 116 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.

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