Will Canada make firm on its climate commitments at COP27?
“You cannot claim to be net zero by continuing to build or invest in new fossil fuel supply.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a no-show as world leaders and business figures meet at the Conference of Parties (COP) 27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, this week and next, sending Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault to lead the Canadian delegation in his stead.
However, for the first time there is an official Canadian Pavilion at the conference, which includes representatives of the oil and gas industry, such as Enbridge, Cenovus, Imperial Oil and Suncor.
The presence of fossil fuel executives at a climate conference has been criticized by environmentalists, including Tzeporah Berman from Stand.Earth and Julia Levin from Environmental Defence Canada.
Meghan Potkins of the Financial Post reports:
Environmental groups and climate activists say the industry responsible for the country’s largest share of emissions should not be at an event dedicated to climate action. But that argument is being dismissed by some federal and provincial officials who argue Canada won’t meet its climate goals without significant input from industry.
“Yes, we acknowledge that we’re one of Canada’s largest emitters, but that’s also why we’re critical to the solution,” Mark Cameron of Pathways Alliance, which represents Canada’s six largest oil companies, told FinPo.
At the conference, former Canadian environment minister Catherine McKenna, who is in charge of a UN panel on reaching net-zero emissions, lambasted these same companies for committing to net zero while at the same pushing for new fossil fuel projects.
The practice of exaggerating the extent of a company’s environmental commitments has been dubbed “greenwashing.”
“We set very clear red lines on greenwashing. This is what you cannot do, if you announce publicly, you put up your hand and you say I’m a climate leader,” McKenna said. “You cannot claim to be net zero by continuing to build or invest in new fossil fuel supply.”
She took particular aim at Canadian companies, which are using record profits to buy back shares and increase executive pay, rather than invest in cleaner energy.
“They ask the government for subsidies and then they say it’s not enough,” McKenna said.
Voluntary commitments from the private sector are simply not going to cut it, she added, calling on governments to give teeth to their targets.
The Orchard spoke to Chris Severson-Baker, the Calgary-based executive director of the Pembina Institute clean energy think tank, who is at COP27 as an observer.
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