The upcoming climate change conference in Paris may not result in legally-binding carbon emission reduction targets, said Canada’s new environment minister, but broadcasting their goals on the international stage should put pressure on individual countries to stick to the targets they set for themselves.
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In an interview with The West Block’s Tom Clark this week, Catherine McKenna said she believes the climate talks will be successful, even if the purpose is not to negotiate individual reduction targets for each country.
“What we’re trying to do is get an agreement where everyone is at the table, everyone says we accept climate change is a problem, we’re going to take action, we’re going to do it in a transparent way, we’re going to be accountable for our targets, we’re going to be doing better,” McKenna said.
For Canada, that will likely mean a commitment to meet —; or do better than —; the 30 per cent reduction of 2005 levels by 2030 set by the previous Conservative government. That target, however, may not be legally binding. McKenna, an international lawyer by trade, said “legally binding” can mean different things.
“In the United States, if it’s a legally binding treaty, it has to go through Congress,” she said. “The last thing we want is to have it fail in Congress … the U.S. not be part of this treaty. I think what we need is a way forward. And so, even if it’s not legally binding in a very formal international law sense, the idea that you would have to report on your targets, you have to show progress, you would have to show where you’re at, those are all ways that you increase transparency and they increase pressure.”
McKenna confirmed she will meet with Canada’s premiers and various federal scientists before the conference to hammer out how they will approach the talks as a cohesive unit.
“It’s really exciting because scientists from Environment Canada are going to talk about the science of climate change. We haven’t really had a big discussion about that over the past decade and I think that’s setting the stage.”