Canada Election Implicates Strong Voice at UN Climate Summit

Spotlight Activity: Canada Election Implicates Strong Voice at UN Climate Summit

During a week of climate action from September 20th to 27th, several of the 32 countries that produce over 80% of our global emissions have put comments forward demonstrating a commitment to set more ambitious climate targets by 2030. Global response has included: 1) millions of people attending youth strikes to express need for urgent climate action, 2) a UN youth climate summit on September 21, and 3) the global UN climate action summit on September 23 in New York City, where countries were expected to share stronger roadmaps in reaching earlier commitments surrounding the Paris Agreement. 

September 23 was expected to be a turning point. UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, had thrown down the gauntlet summoning decision-makers to showcase solutions at the Summit from government, business, and civil society toward reducing emissions to zero by mid-century. More than 100 countries applied to present but only about half were scheduled. It has been almost five years since the Paris Agreement where nearly 200 countries agreed to work towards limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.

Unfortunately, Canada was not on the Summit agenda. Following the dissolution of Parliament for an election requested September 11, 2019 (for October 21, 2019), criteria states it is incumbent that a government act with restraint during the election period. This does not impact decision making or announcements but does deter policy decisions, new spending, and avoidance of participation in high-profile government-related domestic and international events. In attendance were civil servants such as Climate Change Ambassador Patricia Fuller, and various elected municipal and provincial officials to follow the global proceedings.

Montreal Mayor, Valerie Plante (the only mayor invited to speak), confirmed Montreal’s  55% emissions reduction by a 2030 target. She indicated cities must play a big role in emissions reductions as two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban centres by 2050.  Guterres noted, 77 smaller countries committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 for the Summit and 70 countries announced increased Paris pledges by 2020. With several of the world’s largest emitters failing to step up though, the Summit was later viewed as a missed opportunity to gain ground for 2020. As always, the door remains open for more ambition to enter.

The day following the Summit, September 24, Catherine McKenna announced the Liberal party’s platform will ‘push Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050, joining the EU and countries making the same pledge at the UN in New York City.’ The plan will have 5 year milestones over the 30 years and will exceed Canada’s 2030 emission goals. Trudeau later expanded on some details on how targets would be met. (Note – each party has a climate position in their platform). 

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Status: Right Direction

In December 2018, prior to COP 24, McKenna acknowledged a need to step up Canada’s ambition by 2020 and also signed the UN Secretary-General’s June 2018 Declaration of Ambition. At the May 2019 G7 environment ministers meeting in France, McKenna agreed with other Ministers that tackling climate change was critical to a healthy planet, while addressing inequality, promoting sustainable growth, and good jobs.  

With the federal election just around the corner, climate is one of 5 top issues including economy, affordability, health care and taxes. A dramatic scale up of Canada’s ambition and follow through is what many Canadians are showing they care about.  

Take Action

To request action, please contact Minister Catherine McKenna, with the following message:

The IPCC 1.5 degree report from last fall stated only a global reduction of 45% of global greenhouse gases by 2030 from 2010 and zero emissions by 2050 globally will hold warming well below 2°C, while pursuing a limit of the tougher 1.5°C target.  On September 19, Climate Action Tracker announced that under current policies, the world will exceed 1.5°C of warming around 2035, 2°C around 2053, and 3.2°C by the end of the century. Canada needs a solid plan to reach a limit of 1.5°C target as your highest priority this fall prior to the COP25 meeting.

Send Action Alert Message to:

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change 


Mail: 200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard, Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0H3

Tel: 819-938-3860 or toll-free: 1-800-668-6767

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