In response to all the vague wording (the infamous balanced package, etc) that has been thrown around in Tianjin, the Climate Action Network released a set of priority outcomes for Cancun. Then it donned on me to research Canada’s own priorities by visiting the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) website. I was disheartened at first to see that climate change was not a priority issue for the 2010-2011 year. The same year COP15 was set to meet, why wasn’t climate change on the priority for international policy? Does this confirm my fears that the goals of civil society are a far distance away from the goals of Government?
But then I looked at Canada’s priorities again and realized that they actually support and align with the goals put out by CAN. It may just be a matter of optics here, but a closer look at the CAN-DFAIT goals show a surprising similarity.
DFAIT Priority #1 – Ensure greater economic opportunities
CAN Priority - Stop deforestation and degradation of natural forests and related emissions by 2020
We have a huge economic opportunity to accurately value ecosystem services and the Canadian wildlife. The Boreal forest is the target of heavy industrial logging in Northern Canada, but the Boreal forest is also an unrealized treasure for Canada’s economy. According to a WWF report, carbon stored in Canada’s boreal forest and peat lands measures up to $3.7 trillion CAD. Wow!
In a recent article in the Solutions Journal, my personal hero Gus Speth outlines the need for us to protect the natural environment and our communities before it’s too late. If we decide in Canada that the economy will service us (and not the other way around), then sustainability and economic potential go hand in hand.
DFAIT Priority # 2 – Promote peace and security
CAN Priority – Establish an adaptation framework along with institutions, goals, principles, and a mechanism for agreement on loss and damages.
Averting climate change, and indeed working for sustainable development, is at the core of any proactive peacebuiding effort. Changes in the climate and environment are fueling conflicts around the world. The effects of climate change such as land degradation or the spread of infectious disease are all serious threats to peace. Canada should view its work at the UNFCCC as related to our work promoting peace and security.
DFAIT Priority # 3 – Show leadership in global governance
CAN Priority – Establish a new climate fund and a governance structure that is transparent and regionally balanced.
This is our lucky break, Canada! A global fund and governance structure has yet to emerge and we can seize this opportunity. Before Cancun, Canada can start pioneering ways to develop a UN-managed funding body. To go all the way on governance leadership, Canada can even start contributing our fair share for adaptation funding. According to the Pembina Institute, Canada’s fair share for adaptation finance is roughly $2.2 billion to 5.7 billion per year.
See Canada? We already have the priorities in place.. Now let’s just bring the same high-level urgency we have on DFAIT priorities to the climate issue, and voi-la!
About the authorJoanna Dafoe
Joanna is an advocate for climate leadership on both the UN and community level. She attended the Montreal, Bali, and Copenhagen climate meetings with the Canadian Youth Delegation. Outside the UNFCCC, Joanna has been active in the UN Commission on Sustainable Development where she attended the 16th and 17th sessions as a youth representative. Currently living in Sweden on exchange, she calls Edmonton and Toronto her home.