Canadian climate groups optimistic ahead of COP26

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TORONTO – As world leaders gather in Glasgow for the United Nations climate change conference, Canadian climate groups say more policies must be put in place to reduce coal use and turn to energy renewable.

The summit, which will take place from October 31 to November 12, will see more than 190 world leaders come together in an effort to tackle climate change and accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Rick Smith, president of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, will be attending the conference himself. While he admits he’s “very optimistic” about what COP26 will achieve, he says there is still a need for progress.

“A number matters more than anything else and it’s 1.5 degrees, the warming from historical levels that scientists tell us our planet can handle,” Smith told CTV News Channel on Sunday. “So what we need to see in Glasgow is the sum total of all these countries coming from all over the world increasing their contributions to this carbon reduction target.”

In 2015, nearly 200 countries pledged to limit global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels with the signing of the Paris Agreement. But last month the The UN warned that the policies promised by these parties will lead to an increase in temperature of about 2.7 ° C by the end of this century. The organization has since published a report stating that recent announcements by dozens of countries to reach net zero emissions by 2050 could limit a global temperature rise to 2.2 ° C, a figure that still falls short of the 1.5 target ° C.

Despite the gloomy predictions, Rachel Samson, director of clean growth research at the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, says these measures are still a step in the right direction.

“There are great reasons to be optimistic at this point,” Samson told CTV News Channel on Saturday. “We are now in a position where countries representing more than 70% of global GDP have committed to achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

There was a conversation about countries not actively participating in COP26, such as Russia and China, but still leading greenhouse gas emissions. But Smith and Samson both point to China’s commitment to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, and an indication that Russia will commit to a similar goal. Smith also points to recent announcements made by countries like China to halt new coal projects.

“The pipeline of new coal-fired power plants has now shrunk by 75% over the past two years, so you are struggling to find investors anywhere to install a new coal-fired power plant,” Smith said. “It’s a big step forward.

While Samson praises existing policies around carbon pricing, she also highlights other government commitments such as caps on oil and gas emissions and moving to zero-emission car sales here. 2035.

“This is the delicate part, it is to put in place these policies [and] keep increasing them, ”she said.

Nathan Gillett, researcher at Environment and Climate Change Canada, emphasizes the importance of phasing out coal to meet global goals.

“Coal is the fossil fuel that produces the greatest greenhouse gas emissions for the amount of energy created,” he told CTV News Channel on Sunday. “So it really is the number one fossil fuel that we need to phase out if we are to start reducing emissions.”

At the G20 summit in Rome, leaders pledged to “end the provision of international public finance for relentless new coal-fired power generation abroad by the end of 2021”. This is financial support for the construction of coal-fired power stations abroad.

Gillett also encourages investments in renewable energy as well as the promotion of electric vehicles and the limitation of carbon dioxide emissions. These are all things he says Canada must do to deliver on its promise of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“Achieving net zero also means developing technologies to actually remove carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere,” he said. “So there is a lot to do. I think policies are being developed to move in that direction.

With last week’s cabinet reshuffle that saw two prominent conservationists hold important positions – Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson – Smith says now could not be a better time to implement meaningful changes.

“I think everything is in place now, over the next few months, for the federal government, in consultation with the provinces, to develop a country’s first true emissions reduction law of 2030 through a combination of vehicles. electrical and other things, ”he said. “We need to make rapid progress here, but I am optimistic that everything is now in place for us to do so.”


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