When assessing COP21, which marks the end of a round of negotiations that began in Durban South Africa in 2011, it is clear that the agreement approved unanimously by the 195 participating countries is historical. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a tweet immediately after its adoption, “the Paris Agreement is a monumental triumph for people and our planet” adding that it "sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”
For the first time, every country in the world is bound by an agreement that will force them to turn away from fossil fuels and to develop clean economies and renewable energies.
This accord is also historic because it seeks to limit temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius and even seeks to limit the increase to 1.5 ° Celsius, by having all major greenhouse gas emitters commit to reduce their emissions while also taking into account their ability to do so.
Still, no sanctions are planned for countries that do not meet their targets and promised support ($ 100 billion by 2020) for developing countries to convert to clean energy remains unclear in terms of the origin of this funding and as well as how to achieve this change. Each state, however, has the obligation to set a GHG reduction target, to implement it, and make it more ambitious every five years.
Équiterre’s climate change outreach in Paris
The role played by Équiterre in COP21 was key. We were able to mobilize Quebecers and Canadians before the conference during the Climate March in Ottawa on November 29 and we continued this outreach in Paris by organising Canada Night. This event, aimed at creating awareness about the urgency of the climate issue, brought together 300 participants. These included provincial premiers, dignitaries, associations and involved citizens, such as private companies, trade unions, academics, women’s groups, development NGOs, community groups, small organizations made up exclusively of volunteers, large national organizations and elected officials from all three levels of government.
After Paris, the attention of Canadians is now turned to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who promised a framework for Canadian climate policy within 90 days during the last election campaign. The time has come to set an ambitious target, like the ones set by his Ontario and Quebec counterparts - a target to trigger innovation.
Read the press release (in French only) issued by Équiterre from Paris during the final ratification of the accord. Here is an exerpt: “The Paris Agreement includes a long-term commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C and achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by the second half of the century. To achieve this objective, all countries are required to revise their emission reduction plans beginning in 2018, and Canada must work alongside international partners to ensure that its goal is sufficiently ambitious. This is a strong signal for an energy transition to 100% of renewable sources by 2050.”
Interesting additional information: Steven Guilbeault talks about climate at TFO (in French only)