COP21, Just Transition, and Canadian Reaction

cop21 logoThe UNFCC official website includes the Official Text of the Conference of the Parties. For one of the best summaries, see “Paris Climate Deal: Key Points at a Glance” in The Guardian (Dec. 12).
Although Equiterre acknowledged that Canada had pushed for the inclusion of indigenous rights and just transition, these issues did not appear in Article 2 of the formal articles, but rather in the non-binding Annex, on page 21, amongst a list of considerations:
“….Taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities,
Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity…”

Most reaction in Canada and around the world acknowledges the imperfections of the agreement but express the importance and potential of what was achieved.
Some Examples:
“Climate change Met Its Match in the Will of a United World” in the National Observer (Dec. 12), summarizing reaction from National Resources Defence Canada, Clean Energy Canada, and Pembina Institute.
“Global Climate Deal is an Historic Moment” from the Climate Action Network Canada.
“Paris Climate Accord Marks Shift Toward Low-Carbon Economy” in The Globe and Mail (Dec. 12) (which paints a flattering picture of Minister McKenna).
First Thoughts on the Climate Deal by Professor Kathryn Harrison, University of British Columbia, who states, “I see the commitment to revisit targets and progress every 5 years as the heart of the Paris agreement”.
Did Canada Show up at the Paris Climate Talks with its Pants on? (Dec. 11), despite the playful title provides a serious overview of the major issues, including indigenous rights, common but differentiated responsibility, and loss and damage. Author Andrew Gage of West Coast Environmental Law says, “Canada’s position on loss and damage is extremely aggressive and unhelpful”.
The Road to a Paris Climate Deal, a compilation of reporting from the New York Times, includes an Opinion Piece by Bill McKibben, “Falling Short on Climate in Paris” (Dec. 13) which can act as the last word: “That we have any agreement at all, of course, is testament to the mighty movement that activists around the world have built over the last five years. …. But what this means is that we need to build the movement even bigger in the coming years, so that the Paris agreement turns into a floor and not a ceiling for action. We’ll be blocking pipelines, fighting new coal mines, urging divestment from fossil fuels – trying, in short, to keep weakening the mighty industry that still stands in the way of real progress. With every major world leader now on the record saying they at least theoretically support bold action to make the transition to renewable energy, we’ve got a new tool to work with”.


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