Paris Climate Agreement Proclaims the End of the Fossil Fuel Era – Nova Scotia and New Brunswick notably out of step
Ecology Action Centre Reacts to the Outcome of COP21
PARIS (December 12, 2015) – Catherine Abreu, Ecology Action Centre’s Energy Coordinator, made the following statement as parties negotiate the adoption of a global climate deal at the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.
“Today the President of COP21 delivered the first global climate agreement that, if adopted, would see all countries in the world agreeing to phase out fossil fuels. While there are gaps in the agreement that require further work, its historic significance cannot be overstated.
The agreement would commit countries to striving to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees. Achieving this necessitates a transition away from fossil fuel energy by mid-century. Paris has confirmed that a world run on 100% renewable energy is 100% inevitable.
Critically, the agreement outlines a structure that knits 196 parties together to facilitate ongoing collaboration on climate action. This is particularly important for vulnerable countries and communities in immediate need of support to survive the impacts of climate change, who cannot wait decades for their needs to be addressed. Many of these communities are in Atlantic Canada.
Representatives from every province and territory save Newfoundland & Labrador were present during the Paris talks. Though New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have made notable progress in mitigating climate change in the last decade, their showing during the negotiations was lacklustre. While the majority of the tens of thousands of participants in the talks were focused on the renewable energy revolution, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant chose the moment to extol the virtues of an oil pipeline – TransCanada’s proposed export project, Energy East.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia’s official presence in Paris was easily missed. A large contingent of Nova Scotian civil society – from business, environmental, academic, and youth communities – represented the province proudly throughout the conference. Interim Environment Minister Randy Delorey declined the opportunity to meet with representatives of this diverse group while at the conference. He also cancelled a meeting with the Canadian Youth Delegation, four of whom are from Nova Scotia, even as Canadian negotiators, Federal Ministers and staff, and Premiers and Ministers from other provinces found time to meet with them.
This behaviour abroad reflects Nova Scotia government’s weakening performance at home on energy and climate policy, jeopardizing the province’s national leadership on these issues to date.
Prince Edward Island shone as Premier Wade McLauchlan distributed P.E.I wind turbine pins and discussed the Island’s affinity with other small islands states at risk of being swallowed by rising seas.
Domestic action and continued participation of civil society will be necessary to ensure the high-level objectives laid out by the final agreement are cemented in ambitious national policies. Prime Minister Trudeau has promised a framework of Canada’s climate policy within 90 days of the negotiations. Canadians have high expectations and the Prime Minister has made it clear that he will call on all provinces and territories to meet these expectations with an ambitious goal and a plan to get there.
Atlantic Canada is on the front lines of climate change. A majority of our population lives in coastal areas; much of that population is rural. Coastal erosion and floods are already costing provinces millions of dollars every year. Ocean warming and acidification threaten the very marine foodweb upon which our invaluable fisheries depend.
By establishing targets and innovative policies to transition electricity systems away from fossil fuels, diversify domestic energy supply by developing renewable resources, and establishing programs to ensure energy is used more efficiently in homes and businesses, Atlantic Provinces have built a proud legacy of climate action and successful economic transformation. It is our hope that once back home, Atlantic governments continue that history of climate leadership. Much work remains and the urgency of climate change leaves absolutely no room for backsliding.”
Energy Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
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