Paris climate agreement set to take effect with Canada lagging behind

·National Affairs Contributor
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[Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a new carbon pricing plan in the House of Commons this week but his government has yet to ratify the Paris climate accord. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press]

The Paris climate agreement passed the threshold to come into force when the European Union ratified the deal this week, but Canada isn’t involved just yet.

The clock is now ticking for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government to follow suit to ensure Canada a seat at the table when the world meets for the next round of climate negotiations this November in Morocco.

The United States, India and China have already ratified the agreement. Canada will have to do likewise by Nov. 8, when the meeting in Marrakech begins, if the Canadian delegation is to take part.

Keith Stewart, the head of Greenpeace Canada’s energy campaign, says she believes Canada will almost certainly ratify the deal in time.

“The Paris agreement will be in force so that meeting will actually have more legal status than anyone expected it would. No one really thought it would happen this quickly,” Stewart tells Yahoo Canada News.

The failed Kyoto accord, for example, was negotiated in 1997 but didn’t come into force until 2003.

“This has taken 10 months,” Stewart says. “That’s a very positive sign. It does show there is this global push and the fact that you had China and India and Brazil stepping up early to take action undercuts a lot of the argument we’ve heard from Conservatives and others saying Canada can’t afford to act alone.

“Everyone else is acting, too.”

‘A big step for the world’

Trudeau has made climate action a key plank of his government’s goals in the first year in office.

Under parliamentary rules, his government does not need approval from the House of Commons to ratify the Paris deal.

The agreement is up for debate this week in Ottawa and is expected to be ratified by Oct. 7 — well in time for Canadian officials to take part in negotiating the rules around how the Paris deal will be implemented.

The EU ratification means the deal has surpassed the necessary requirement — 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions — to bring it into force. That will happen 30 days after the EU submits its documents.

The move by the EU means 68 of the 191 signatory nations have now ratified the agreement, representing 57 per cent of global emissions.

When Canada ratifies, that will add another 2 per cent of global emissions to the tally.

“It’s a big step for the world, in terms of its approach to climate change,” says Anthony Heyes, a University of Ottawa economics professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Economics.

The accord aims to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

As a signatory, Canada has committed to cut carbon dioxide emissions to ensure the country is 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

With ratification still pending, the Liberal government did reveal this week details of the crux of its climate change plan with the surprise announcement this week of a carbon pricing plan.

The timing is not coincidental, Heyes tells Yahoo Canada News.

It’s an “extremely aggressive” plan that will deliver Canada’s Paris accord commitments with a carbon price that will reach $50 per tonne by 2022.

“This is a critical week,” he says.

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