The framework is both comprehensive and ambitious, but will it work in time for Canada to meet its Paris commitment of a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030? To answer this question, we need to look more closely at some of the key elements of the framework.
NDP voted with Trudeau and his majority Liberal caucus.
The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions have formally joined it.
After 83 days in power for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the House of Commons has resumed sitting. Ottawa will be back in full swing with hundreds of new staffers settling into their new roles. As ministers return to the question period briefed up, staffed up and, ideally, rested up from the holiday, we will see a more comfortable team working to deliver on the government priorities set out in their platform and Speech from the Throne: growing the economy for the middle class, providing Canadians with open and transparent government and fighting climate change.
In Paris Canada agreed to drop our greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. To achieve this goal Canada will need to cut fossil fuels out of our transportation and home heating energy budgets by the middle of this century. Fossil fuels represent 60 per cent of B.C.'s current energy needs.
Much attention is paid to the fact that, like its predecessors, the Paris Agreement is "toothless" because it isn't backed up by an enforcement mechanism. This pessimism is understandable. Without clear and binding targets, how can any of the signatories be assured that their sacrifices will lead to meaningful emissions reductions? How can they know that the potentially difficult transition towards renewable energy will be a shared burden? The bad news is that the Paris Agreement is unlikely to introduce strict targets or develop an enforcement mechanism in the foreseeable future.
Renewable energy is transitioning from a few keen farmers and municipalities to provincial and perhaps even national scale initiatives. This is good news for climate change and emissions reductions, but it also represents investment in new jobs and industries with plenty of future potential.
Climate change is no longer "a scientific curiosity" but a "growing crisis."
Canada fell woefully short of 2012 emissions targets and in December 2011 became the only country to pull out of Kyoto, the world's only binding climate treaty. That was in the dark decade of Stephen Harper. Prime Minister Trudeau led a younger, far more optimistic and enlightened entourage to Paris.
I've always believed that if you shut people in a room for long enough, they'll find something to agree on. A fiery debate maybe more fun, particularly over a drink with friends, but if it never reaches resolution it never actually achieves anything. Agreements can come naturally, but more often they don't -- in which case they require capitulation or compromise. Given that no one likes capitulation (unless it's by the other person) compromise has to be the norm. So it was at the COP21 in Paris.