COP21: Actions of the provincial and federal governments

On November 27, on the eve of COP 21, the Government of British Columbia released the  recommendations of its appointed Climate Leadership Team, summarized in a press release. The recommendations centred on increases to the carbon tax and a 2030 target to reduce emissions across three broad sectors: Built Environment, Industry and Transportation, by 40%, compared to 2007. In a Nov. 30 interview with the CBC, Premier Clark’s response was non-committal and dependent on public consultations in 2016; in an interview with the Globe and Mail on December 9, she stated that B.C.’s position will now depend on national targets. On December 8, British Columbia became the first Canadian jurisdiction to sign on to the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) – a subnational collaboration between 29 states and provinces from Brazil, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain and the United States.  

On November 27, Quebec announced an ambitious GHG emissions reduction target of 37.5% below 1990 levels by 2030, and launched a new social campaign to inspire its citizens. The campaign, Let’s do it for them or Faisons-le pour eux includes further news.

On December 3, on the way to COP21, Manitoba released Manitoba’s Climate Change and Green Economy Action Plan, as well as Green and Growing: Manitoba’s Commitment to Green Jobs, both available here. The plan is wide-ranging, including targets for emissions reductions through enhanced green building standards, green infrastructure investment, greener government operations, and cooperation with Indigenous people. It promises to create 6,000 green jobs in the next five years. Most attention however, focused on the announcement of a cap-and-trade system. Read the CBC News report (Dec. 3) or a summary at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
On December 7, the Premiers of Ontario, Québec, and Manitoba signed a new memorandum of understanding signalling their intent to link their respective cap and trade programs under the Western Climate Initiative, the North American carbon market which also includes California.
Both Quebec and British Columbia joined the International Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance – Quebec on December 3, and B.C. on December 10. Members of the Alliance agree to strive to make all new passenger vehicles in their jurisdictions ZEVs by no later than 2050. Also at COP21, the Alliance released a paper by the International Coalition for Clean Transportation, Global Climate Change Mitigation Potential from a Transition to Electric Vehicles.    
The first Compact of States and Regions Disclosure Report was released at COP21 on December 7, listing GHG reduction targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050, as well as progress to date on the targets, and renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. According to the summary press release, the collective goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 12.4 GtC02e by 2030 – greater than China’s current annual output, and 47.4 GtCO2e by 2050 – equal to total world GHG emissions in 2012. The Compact of States and Regions, formed in 2014, now includes Alberta, B.C. Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, and Quebec among its 44 members.
On the national level, the greatest surprise came when Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced support for the 1.5C target; see the Globe and Mail   (Dec. 6) or “Canada shocks COP21 with Big New Climate Goal” in The National Observer.
Canada also joined 36 other countries including the U.S., Germany, France, Mexico and the UK, in a December 1 communiqué committing to the reform of fossil-fuel subsidies. The communique calls for three key principles: transparency on subsidy policies and reform timetables, ambition in scale and timetable for reforms, and supports to assist in the transition away from subsidies. In November, Oil Change International released  Empty Promises: G20 Subsidies to Oil Gas and Coal Production which estimates that 8 countries – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – spend a combined $80 billion a year on public support for fossil fuel production.

CUPE’S STRATEGIC PLAN INCLUDES NEW INITIATIVES TO “PROTECT THE PLANET”

CUPE LOGOThe Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) held their national convention in Vancouver from November 2 – 6, 2015 . Delegates heard Naomi Klein, attended a rally in support of the LEAP Manifesto , and supported a Strategic Planning Document  which includes new initiatives under the heading “Protect the Planet”.   Previous resolutions had included commitments to lobby the government, collaborate with environmental and civil society allies, and develop policies, action plans, and tools for member education. Amongst the new commitments in the 2015 document: “We will offer concrete support to First Nations and others taking action on the front lines to prevent further environmental degradation resulting from oil and gas extraction….Attend COP21 as part of the union delegation…. Educate CUPE pension trustees about the risks of climate change to pension investments… Help locals undertake workplace initiatives that reduce pollution and the use of toxins, and that tackle global warming.”

On November 17, CUPE issued a press release concerning their participation and goals for COP21 in Paris.

CANADA AT COP21: POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS AND CIVIL SOCIETY:

With Canada’s new political climate coinciding with the run-up to the Paris COP21 meetings from November 30 to December 11, there has been a flood of energy and climate policy documents from Canada’s think tanks and advocacy groups. Some examples: Broadbent Institute and Mowat Centre, Step Change: Federal Policy Ideas towards a Low-Carbon Canada  ;    Climate Action Network (CAN), A Paris Package that shows Canada Cares ; the David Suzuki Foundation statement , which endorses the CAN priorities; Powering Climate Prosperity     from the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity, and “A Clean Energy Agenda for Canada”  in IRPP’s Policy Options (October), written by Dan Woynillowicz of Clean Energy Canada. Resource economist Marc Jaccard  also writes in Policy Options (November), with his views that emissions targets are not as important as the right policies, and “ Everything else is fluff, including government spending programs.”

On November 18, the Canadian Labour Congress released CLC’s COP21 Statement which inserts workers’ needs in this climate discussion. The statement includes a thorough statement of why Labour cares, and what the CLC demands: “The CLC will strongly advocate for compensation, retraining, re-employment and relocation for affected workers and their communities, and demands Just Transition commitments to support those workers who risk being displaced by climate change or by climate change policies and mitigation measures. …. Carbon reduction policies must be combined with progressive tax and expenditure policies and the establishment of Just Transition funds.  These funds should be governed by an independent Just Transition board with labour representation…… The CLC calls on Canada to commit to a legally binding target to cut our domestic carbon pollution by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 38% by 2030, returning it to the trajectory of achieving 80% reductions by 2050. …The Canadian labour movement supports a national cap and trade carbon-pricing system, which will serve to set a maximum emission level, in line with the overall national targets. In many cases, emission reduction activities would result in modernizing plants and improving workers’ health and safety….. The CLC calls on Canada to commit $400 million annually to the Green Climate Fund, and recognize the legitimacy of developing country calls for additional funding, not through the Green Climate Fund, for losses and damage resulting from climate change.”

BlueGreen Canada also sent a specific request to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change stating, “… we urge you to keep Just Transition and Decent Work language in the preamble and operational Articles of the future Paris Agreement, as stated in the bracketed section of Article 2, Option 1 of the draft agreement and decision from October 23, 2015.”

Other avenues for civil society input: the 100% Possible March  in Ottawa on November 29 , planned and organized by a “Who’s Who” of Canadian environmental advocacy , including many labour organizations – CAPE,CLC, CSN, CSQ, FTQ, IATSE,OSSTF, PIPSC, and PSAC.   An international Virtual People’s Climate March is also being organized for November 29, especially important in light of the restrictions on demonstrations in Paris.

In the first such meeting in seven years, Canada’s Premiers met with Canada’s Prime Minister in Ottawa on November 23   . Two topics are on the agenda: Syrian refugees, and the Canadian position at the UN negotiations at COP21 in Paris, to which the Premiers were invited. To follow developments at COP21 from a Canadian perspective, see Simon Fraser University’s Clean Energy Canada analysis  , or the National Observer “Road to Paris” series . The official UNFCC COP21 website is here .

Brazil and India submit INDC statements before COP21

All the major emitters have now submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions statements to the UNFCC: Brazil on September 28, with a commitment to reduce GHG emissions 37% by 2025 and 43% by 2030, and a goal to eliminate illegal deforestation and restore 12 million hectares of land.
India, on October 2, pledged to reduce the intensity of its fossil fuel emissions 33 percent to 35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to produce 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. India stated that $2.5 trillion U.S. would be required between now and 2030 to meet its goals; in a softening of its position, India did not make emission cuts conditional on aid, according to the New York Times, although a government official quoted by Inside Climate News quotes states that its efforts will be tied to the “availability and level of international financing and technology transfer”. On October 5th, Reuters reported “Germany offers India $2.25 billion for solar, clean energy”; Reuters also reported that India is opening one coal mine a month in a drive to double its coal production by 2020.

Canada’s new Liberal government: What lies ahead for climate change policy?

Justin TrudeauAccording to the CBC at “New Liberal Government: Where does it get started?”, Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau’s first order of business is to meet with the Premiers to discuss climate change policy before COP 21. For slightly more detailed information, we can also refer to the Liberal platform statement, or a very complete analysis by  West Coast Environmental Law (Oct. 22) . Read reactions,  ranging from the positive and optimistic by Environmental Defence; to the factual “What Your New Liberal Majority Government Means for Climate, Environment, Science and Transparency” by DeSmog Canada; to the pessimistic “After Harper: Confronting the Liberals” at RankandFile.ca.  Internationally, see reaction from The Guardian: “Trudeau victory may not signal a U-turn in Canada’s climate policy”; Politico; and the New York Times. In Canada, optimism is tempered, and 350.org is organizing Climate Welcome demonstrations, from November 5 – 8 in Ottawa, to remind the new Prime Minister of the urgency of climate change policy reforms.  Justin Trudeau will be sworn into office on November 4th.