Windfall Article

Seven Climate Pledges Canada Made at UN COP26

The curtain finally fell on the much-talked-about 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) on Saturday, November 13. For fourteen days, countries across the globe, including Canada, had their leaders, delegates, and climate activists in Glasgow negotiating climate terms and setting new emission reduction targets.

The summit ended with a consensus for governments to revise their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for next year, even as a report released during the conference confirmed that current NDCs could drive global temperatures up to a dreaded 2.4C degrees. Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, particularly vocal at the summit about the nation's renewed climate commitment to ramp up climate efforts, made fresh pledges. Here are seven major pledges Trudeau made at the just-concluded conference in that regard.

1. Urgent Cap on Oil and Gas Emissions

In Glasgow, Trudeau stated that Canada will, as a matter of urgency, impose a cap on oil and gas sector emissions at a pace and scale required to achieve net-zero by 2050, as the country remains one of the world's biggest oil and gas producers. In 2019, Canada's oil and gas sector accounted for 26 per cent of the country's total emission.

2. Cease Exports of Thermal Coal by 2020

During the negotiation, the Prime Minister reiterated an election promise to end Canada's thermal coal exports by 2030, supporting the global transition to cleaner alternatives, especially as the country produced less than 1% of global thermal coal in 2020, according to the International Energy Association (IEA) data. Also, at the COP, Canada committed $1 billion to help other countries cut dependence on coal.

3. Withdraw Public Financing of Fossil Fuel Projects

Canada joined 29 other countries in Glasgow to sign an agreement to halt direct public funding to the global fossil fuel sector by the end of 2022. However, a clause in the pact holds that the industry will only receive financial support in limited and certain tenable circumstances that would not jeopardize the 1.5 C warming limit target.

4. Minimize Methane Emissions

At the conference, Canada also reinforced plans to cut methane emissions as it threw its weight behind the U.S Global Methane Pledge officially launched at COP26 to cut gas methane by 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030. Canada had initially announced its plan in October 2021, which included a commitment to reduce oil and gas methane emissions to 75 per cent by 2030 below 2012 levels.

5. Enforce Carbon Tax on Emission

Trudeau reaffirmed Canada's stance on 'carbon tax' on emissions and urged all countries to agree to a global carbon pricing mechanism. Canada's carbon price kicked off in 2019 at $20 a tonne and is poised to spike to $170 a tonne by 2030. The Prime Minister posited that if 60 per cent of global emissions are covered by a carbon tax by 2030, up from the current 20 per cent, emission reduction efforts will see significant progress.

6. Stop Deforestation by 2030

Canada signed a declaration to end and reverse Deforestation as well as land degradation by 2030. The statement, signed by over 130 countries, covers more than 3.6 billion hectares of forest worldwide. Similar to the 2014 declaration signed in New York by Canada and 39 other nations, this new declaration of forests is non-binding, even though more countries signed it at the 2021 conference.

7. Cut Vehicle Emissions

As the conference wound down, Canada and 13 other nations signed a memorandum of understanding to work towards 100 per cent zero-emission new truck and bus sales by 2040 and 30 per cent by 2030. In addition, a statement was signed, assuring that all new cars and vans sales will be zero-emission before or by 2040.

Undoubtedly COP 26 triggered big aspirations and more pledges owing to the urgency for nations to chart a new course to net-zero emissions, especially as the IPCC reports released a few months before the conference pointed at impending doom from below-par climate efforts. Nevertheless, skepticism lingers as to how nations intend to act on their pledges from now until the next COP and the level of impact their increased ambitions will make in the grand scheme of things. For Canada, with a hefty backlog of climate commitments, one can only hope that the outcome of these renewed pledges matches the enthusiasm with which they were made at the just-concluded conference.