All eyes on Canada following US-China emission-curbing agreement

Intro

After the world’s two largest carbon emitters agreed to curb greenhouse gases this week, all eyes are on Canada to follow in their lead. The surprise agreement, which calls for China’s emissions to peak in 2030 and for the US to emit between 26 and 28 per cent less carbon dioxide in 2025 than its 2005 levels, is expected to be a “game-changer” for the world’s leading nations. This announcement comes just a few weeks after Environment Minister Leonna Aglukkaq’s spoke at the UN climate summit in New York, declaring that Canada’s Harper administration would be more willing to move forward with a serious climate change agreement once they saw a demonstrated commitment emerge from all major emitters and economies. Despite this, the federal government is still paving the way for dangerous fossil fuel industries to keep growing while muzzling scientists. This is taking place as Canada is on pace to fall short of its promises to reduce its emissions by 2020. With the US and China joining hands at a time when G20 nations are meeting — just weeks ahead of the COP in Lima — Canada is running out of excuses, and will no longer be able to drag its feet through climate talks.

Key Points

  • The US and China aren’t waiting to agree to take climate action, it’s happening now. This agreement came as a surprise for many, mostly because the APEC meetings tend to discuss broader issues concerning economic cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region. By willingly taking on a more ambitious agreement in the presence of global leaders ahead of the G20, these two leading nations are indicating they will be taking on a more ambitious role ahead of next year’s international climate meetings in Paris.
  • Canada is running out of excuses for avoiding a more ambitious stance on climate. This year, Canada was heavily scrutinized for being a “climate villain” among OECD countries, ranking dead last in the latest Climate Change Performance Index. With this announcement coming from its biggest competitor and biggest consumer of oil, this surprise US-China deal puts political pressure on the Canadian federal government to act swiftly as the country is increasingly pushed into the limelight.
  • With federal elections coming up next year, climate “frankness” will no longer be a politically sound strategy for the Harper government. In the past, Prime Minister Harper has said that unlike other leading nations, he simply chooses to be “more frank” than other countries about the economic impacts of tackling climate change. However, as seen in neighbouring US elections, many leaders are now facing the consequences of failing to take stance on climate soon enough, especially in the most vulnerable parts of the country.

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Quotes

  • “The excuse of the largest emitters not acting is gone. The excuse that the U.S. wasn’t moving and therefore we should be careful about how far we move, that is now gone.” – David McLaughlin, adviser at the University of Waterloo’s school of environment
  • “This announcement really removes any excuse whatsoever that Canada can’t act until others act, because clearly its biggest competitor and also its biggest consumer of oil is going much further and bringing China along with it.” – Chris Severson-Baker, managing director for the Pembina Institute
  • “The argument for not doing anything has run its course.”  – Chris Severson-Baker, managing director for the Pembina Institute

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  • MT @NaomiAKlein It also robs China-bashers of their best arguments for climate negligence in the U.S./Canada/Australia/EU. China is acting