The Liberal government is scrambling to salvage a tentative COP-41 deal to curb emissions from the fossil fuel industry, but a growing chorus of Canadian MPs and Canadians say the Harper government has made a fatal mistake.
The Conservative government withdrew its support for the deal, saying the Liberals did not provide the necessary safeguards for Canada’s environment.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Liberal government’s decision,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Friday morning.
“The COP-31 framework is in place, but the Trudeau government has no intention of taking it forward.
It’s a dangerous precedent, and it is unacceptable.”
A Liberal government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trudeau’s team “remains deeply disappointed” in the Liberals’ withdrawal.
“There are a number of areas where we disagree with them on,” the official said.
“And there are also areas where they do not agree with us.”
The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the Liberals would seek to amend the COP-81 agreement to add a clause allowing countries to withdraw support for climate change mitigation measures if they “do not meet certain environmental standards.”
The Conservative cabinet had been scheduled to meet Friday to discuss COP-71, but its members were instead expected to meet Sunday to consider a new COP-72, which will be announced Saturday afternoon.
The official said the Conservatives were not aware of any new amendments to the COP 81 agreement.
Canada’s national climate plan says that emissions need to be cut at least 30 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change.
The country has committed to a “carbon budget” of 1,200 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
“It’s a really ambitious goal,” said Scott Matthews, a senior climate policy analyst at the think-tank Environment Canada.
“If you’re going to be serious about tackling this problem, we’re going the wrong way.”
Matthews said Canada should not be relying on the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits nations to reduce emissions at a global level, but rather focusing on the COP 71 plan.
“I think the Conservatives have done the wrong thing,” Matthews said.
Trudeau said Friday that Canada was committed to implementing the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“For me, the Paris accord is a win-win for Canada, and I’m very confident that it will help us in this fight against climate change,” Trudeau said.
Canada, however, has been a leader in international efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the country is the world’s second-biggest emitter of CO2.
The Canadian government is committed to reducing emissions to the lowest levels in decades, and the Liberal Party, led by Trudeau, has argued that Canada is not in the position to do so.
“In the short term, it’s going to take a few years,” Trudeau told reporters Friday.
“But I don’t see any reason why we can’t be a leader.”
But Matthews said that while Canada has pledged to reduce its emissions, it does not meet the carbon budget it pledged to in the Paris deal.
“Our economy has already been hurt by it,” Matthews added.
“What we need to do is reduce our emissions significantly, and if we do that, then we’ll be a lot closer to our Paris commitments.”
Matthews noted that the Trudeau administration has not made any commitment to the Paris agreement and has not publicly announced its intentions.
“They’re not announcing the climate plan, they’re not talking about the climate deal, they’ve just done nothing to show they’re committed to it,” he said.
While the COP21 agreement is the strongest and most comprehensive climate plan in history, there are other major challenges facing Canada in the coming decades, Matthews said, including sea-level rise, sea-water pollution, rising sea levels, acidification of the oceans, and ozone depletion.
Matthews said the COP71 deal was not enough, and that it should have included the “deeply significant” targets to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from sources like power plants, factories, and vehicles.
“A number of countries have already come to Canada to discuss their climate goals and commitments,” Matthews noted.
“Canada is not going to go and negotiate with countries that are far less developed and much more vulnerable than Canada.”
Matthews also said the government should have kept the focus on the Paris climate deal.
Trudeau was asked during the question period whether Canada could afford to continue to rely on a U.S.-led accord that will see the U.N. and other countries impose tough economic penalties on countries that do not comply with its greenhouse gas reduction pledges.
Trudeau responded that “we’ve made that very clear.
But we have to be realistic about the cost of the U (Paris) agreement.”
“If we do the wrong things, if we don’t work on this, if you’re really serious about solving the climate crisis, you’ve got to be very clear about what you’re committing to