It has been almost two weeks since the Canadian team of negotiators arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for COP27, the UN climate change conference. What did Canada achieve at the conference as delegates enter the final stretch of negotiations on various texts and communiqués?
Dubbed the “African COP”, this has become a forum for countries across the Global South – countries that have generally not been the largest historical emitters of greenhouse gases, but will bear the brunt of the climate crisis – to put forward their demands. to bring .
Chief among these is funding for loss and damage – the inevitable economic, cultural and human losses countries will suffer when natural disasters wreak havoc on their communities and rising seas engulf their coastlines.
Loss and damage support, but no fund yet
Heading into COP27, Canada stepped up its support for adding loss and damage to the conference’s official agenda — a major win for fragile countries that have been asking for funding for decades.
The Alliance of Small Island States, a group of low-lying and island nations, has proposed a multilateral fund organized under the UN climate treaty to be established later this year. But the announcement of such a fund has proved elusive.
Several wealthy countries have made individual pledges for loss and damage, including Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and more. But the largest economy, the US, is remarkably quiet. US President Joe Biden’s speech at COP27 last week made no mention of loss and damage at all.
“Canada needs to look to other progressive countries within the European Union, other countries like New Zealand, showing a willingness to really respond to the calls of climate sensitive countries,” said Eddy Pérez, international climate diplomacy manager at advocacy group Climate Action Network Canada.
Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, said he wants to see an agreement on loss and damage at the conference.
“There is, I imagine, frustration and great impatience on the part of developing countries because they have been trying to have this conversation for 30 years. And countries like ours, and many other developed countries have refused to have that conversation,” Guilbeault said during a chat hosted by Climate Action Network Canada at the conference venue in Sharm el-Sheikh.
“But that has changed this year.”
Canada joins the Global Shield program
Canada has pledged money for another program that will address loss and damage. Global Shield, led by Germany and officially launched at this COP, will provide a form of insurance to vulnerable countries facing climate catastrophes.
Canada will provide $7 million to Global Shield, of its $5.3 billion climate finance pledge already in place.
“We’re starting a loss and damage response here with that tool. I think that’s valuable,” said David Ryfisch, team leader for international climate policy at Germanwatch, a nongovernmental climate research and advocacy group based in Germany.
“However, what is critically important is that this is just one element of a suite of instruments that we will have to see in terms of loss and damage.”
Ryfisch acknowledged that the roughly $200 million pledged to Global Shield from Germany and countries around the world was a drop in the ocean compared to the billions that will eventually be needed.
Global Shield also focuses on immediate recovery from disasters, not more slow-onset climate events or non-economic losses such as loss of life.
“It can’t respond to all the nuances of loss and damage,” Ryfisch said.
“But it’s a start.”
Although described as insurance, the program is aimed at creating a pool of money from various donor countries that can be deployed quickly after a climate disaster. The program will also help vulnerable countries pause their debt payments after a disaster so they can reallocate those resources for recovery.
Seven “pathfinder” countries have been selected as the first recipients of the Global Shield program. They include countries like low-lying Bangladesh, island nations like the Philippines and Fiji, and most notably Pakistan, which this year experienced devastating floods that submerged a third of its landmass.
The idea behind Global Shield is that insurance – unlike sometimes slow humanitarian aid – can be distributed quickly after a disaster. People and countries affected by climate events quickly receive funding to maintain their businesses and rebuild infrastructure, and can avoid going into debt or losing their livelihoods in the immediate aftermath of disasters.
Getting closer to cutting methane
Canada also announced a framework for new methane regulations to reduce emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas from the oil and gas industry.
Methane is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is responsible for a quarter of the global warming observed to date. Tackling methane emissions is seen as essential to the fight against climate change.
Canada’s goal, announced last year, is to reduce methane emissions by 75 percent from 2012 levels by 2030. The new framework is now open for public consultation and draft regulations are expected next year.
Methane leaks from the various appliances and oil and gas sites, and mitigating those leaks involves a combination of monitoring and repair equipment, looking for leaks, and capturing the gas before it escapes.
Laying the foundations for a biodiversity agreement
Shortly after COP27, Canada will host the COP15 Conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal
This year’s conference is seen as a pivotal moment to reach a groundbreaking agreement on the protection of nature around the world, which is closely linked to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, said COP15 “needs to reach a deal as ambitious and comprehensive as the deal that was reached for the Paris climate,” referring to the 2015 Paris agreement to curb global warming. soil to well below 2°C and ideally 1.5°C.
COP15 runs from December 7 to December 19.