Canada is already feeling severe impacts of the climate crisis. Climate change and extreme weather events such as floods, wildfires, heat waves and droughts have impacted millions of Canadians in recent years, and climate damages are costing Canada billions of dollars annually in material damages, GDP loss and health expenditures.
According to remarks made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just one year ago at COP26 in Glasgow, Canada is warming at twice the global rate, and Canada’s north is warming at three times the global rate. The time for discussing overarching targets with global leaders has passed. The question is: can the focus evolve from commitments to climate action?
What’s Happened Since Glasgow
In 2021, when global leaders met at COP26 to discuss our global climate future, Canada made significant commitments to emissions reductions. Canada committed to capping oil and gas (O&G) emissions at the scale and pace needed to reach net-zero by 2050 and signed the Global Methane pledge which aims to reduce methane emissions from the O&G sector by 75% by 2030 from 2012 levels. Canada also joined several other countries in endorsing several commitments aimed at ending deforestation and advancing sustainable land use.
The commitments made by Canada at COP26 were followed by several actions taken during the 12 months that followed. The pledge to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector has been a particular focus for Canada and was central to the updated 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. The government is now developing legislation which intends to bring its pledges to life. Discussion papers have been released to solicit feedback on how to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector (Canada’s target is 75% reduction in the O&G sector from 2012 levels by 2030), and on the development of an oil and gas emissions cap (Canada’s target is a sector-wide reduction of 42% below 2019 levels by 2030). This was complemented with a $10 million investment over five years towards the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) trust fund which aims to support the Global Methane Pledge, and the release of Canada’s federal GHG offset credit system which aims to reduce landfill methane emissions (with protocols to tackle other emission sources expected to be released in the future). The federal government has also begun efforts to decarbonize the electricity grid, releasing a discussion paper on a Clean Electricity Standard to achieve a net-zero emissions grid by 2035. At COP26, the UK presidency reiterated the imperative that the adaptation gap must be closed. Since then, Canada has committed to support adaptation efforts globally and at home, through the five-year (2021-2026) $5.3 billion international climate finance commitment, and advanced progress on the long-awaited National Adaptation Strategy, which is set to launch around COP27.
Priorities for COP27
When global leaders gather in Egypt in November, there are four key themes that discussions will focus on:
- Mitigation: The implementation of the Glasgow Climate Pact and a call to review ambition in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the efforts made by each individual country to reduce its emissions and adapt to climate change;
- Adaptation: The enhanced global agenda for action on adaptation, confirming what was agreed on in Paris and further elaborated in the Glasgow Climate Pact;
- Finance: The delivery of the $100 billion fund for developing countries; and
- Collaboration: Encouraging government, the private sector and civil society to work together to transform the way we interact with our planet.
It is also expected that discussions will focus on the topic of creating a financing mechanism for addressing climate loss and damage. This concept centers around the idea that developed countries should provide funding to countries that are severely impacted by the effects of climate change, such as the loss of land due to rising sea levels or acute disasters like the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, damages from which are now estimated at $40 billion, which was a severe weather event likely exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.
These key conversations are intended to drive the potential for new and renewed commitments from global partners in the fight against climate change.
Canada’s Role in Egypt
COP27 will mark the first time in several years that Canada will have a national pavilion as part of its presence at the annual climate discussions. The pavilion gives Canada a forum for hosting formal discussions on its climate commitments and the services and technologies provided by Canadian companies. With COP15 (UN Biodiversity Conference) happening one month later in Montreal, it will also open discussions on the importance of biodiversity as part of the larger conversation on climate change.
Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy is likely to be released during COP27, but there are rising questions in its ability to define concrete targets and actions at the national scale that are actionable and prepare Canadians for what is to come. Following the devastating impact of Hurricane Fiona, experts have been calling for the Strategy to include a greater emphasis on specific national solutions that will help build resilience and limit the impacts of climate change in the short term.
Following the completion of COP27, Canada will need to turn commitments into action, provide funding support for other global jurisdictions to do the same, and continue to work with international leaders in sharing innovations and technologies that support the transition to a low carbon and resilient future.
To learn more about the important issues facing Canada, and other Global jurisdictions, visit the WSP COP27 hub: