Question 2: Global Climate Change: What should be Canada’s International Commitments?

In 2015, Canada signed the Paris Agreement, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Every country in the world is part of the Paris Agreement (although the United States government has signalled its intention to withdraw from the treaty).

The Paris Agreement commits parties to contribute to limiting average global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To meet this goal, each signatory commits to cut its carbon pollution, and submit a plan to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). This plan is known as its “Nationally Determined Contribution” (NDC). Canada’s NDC is a plan to cut GHGs by 30% below 2005 emission levels by 2030. 

To deliver on its Paris commitments, the current Canadian government developed the “Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth” in 2016, which laid the foundation for subsequent policies and regulations designed to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy. 

However, according to the latest assessment from the federal government there is still a gap of 79 million tonnes of GHGs between our 2030 target emissions and the levels Canada is on track to achieve, based on current commitments and practice.

Furthermore, we know that our current target is nowhere near what constitutes Canada’s fair share of a world-wide effort to hold global warming to the 1.5°C limit. A report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018 confirms that the current 2030 climate pledges of all Parties to the Paris Agreement aren’t consistent with any scenario that limits warming to 1.5°C. Rather, we can expect to see warming of between 2.6°C and 4°C if nations continue down the current path.

Addressing the need for greater ambition by the international community will be front and center at United Nations conferences to follow up the Paris agreement in September 2019 and November 2020.

What will be your party’s commitment to addressing global climate change? Under a government led by your party, would Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution:

  • remain at the present level, (i.e. a commitment  to cut GHGs by 30% below 2005 emission levels by 2030) but falling short on domestic action to meet this goal. 
  • remain at the present level, (i.e. a commitment  to cut GHGs by 30% below 2005 emission levels by 2030) but strengthening domestic action so that Canada meets this goal. 
  • increase Canada’s commitment, so that we cut GHGs by 45% below 2005 emission levels by 2030. 
  • double Canada’s commitment, so that we cut GHGs by 60% below 2005 emission levels by 2030.

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