On Saturday December 12, 2016, Canada and 194 other nations
adopted the Paris Agreement, a global pact to fight climate
change. The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global temperature
rise this century to "well below" 2ºC and hopes to limit it to 1.5ºC
above pre-industrial levels.
The emission reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement
are not binding on nations. However, Article 4 of the Paris
Agreement requires that nations prepare and publish their
nationally determined GHG reduction targets and meet every five
years to review and assess their targets.
Parties to the Paris Agreement are encouraged to reach a global
peaking of GHG emissions "as soon as possible" so as to
achieve a balance between human-caused GHG emissions (i.e. burning
fossil fuels, tropical deforestation, etc.) and removals by sinks
of GHG (i.e. forests, soils, oceans and the atmosphere). The Paris
Agreement specifically recognizes the role of forests as carbon sinks
and calls on nations to conserve remaining forests through
sustainable forest management and other measures, including
payments to those developing nations which reduce or limit the
destruction of their forests.
Developed nations agreed to collectively provide up to $100
billion annually by 2020 to help developing countries mitigate and
adapt to the effects of climate change. The Canadian government has
already announced $2.65 billion in funding
over the next five years to help developing countries fight climate
We should have a clearer picture of what steps Canada will take
to achieve the goals and obligations set out the Paris Agreement
once the federal and provincial and territorial governments have a
chance to meet in the new year. At the same time that government is
looking inward at a national strategy, the Canadian government has stated that it is working with the Unite
States and Mexico toward a continental climate change deal.
What is clear is that 2016 promises to be a significant year for
action on climate change in Canada.
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