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Climate urgency respects no region

By Catherine Aeau and Nicolas Moyer      

At this crucial moment, when other countries are deciding to step back from their international obligations on climate finance, Canada should step up and reaffirm that backsliding is unacceptable.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, pictured in Ottawa on June 5, 2019, announcing the government's plan to replace funding for the 50 Million Tree program recently cancelled by the Ontario government. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
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Canada has an excellent opportunity to highlight its international commitment to climate justice following the visit of the Green Climate Fund Director on June 13.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the largest dedicated climate fund within the United Nations convention on climate change and the Paris Agreement. It’s also the world’s most important multilateral funding body created to help vulnerable and developing countries cut emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Since it began in 2015, the GCF has boosted climate resilience for tens of millions of people in more than 100 countries. It’s estimated that its programs will reduce greenhouse gases by 1.5 billion tons.

Canada pledged $300-million when the GCF began, and has been an active player on the GCF Board since its inception. Canada has been a constructive voice within the GCF under both the Harper government and the Trudeau government and has helped drive stronger policies on gender equality, private sector engagement, and forest management.

The visit of the head of this organization is as important for the Green Climate Fund as it is for Canada. For GCF, it will be a moment to strengthen relations with the Canadian government at a moment when it is seeking new pledges. At start-up, the U.S. and Australia joined Canada and others, in contributing a total of $10.3-billion to GCF. With domestic political changes in the U.S. and Australia, both countries have said they won’t contribute to the GCF this year. At the same time, Germany and Norway have doubled their pledges. The GCF is looking to Canada to make an ambitious pledge as an encouragement for other countries to join in.

The visit is also important for Canada. As we enter a pre-electoral period, showing support to GCF is an opportunity for the federal government to highlight its international commitment to climate justice.

Funding GCF is in Canada’s interest. The recent wildfires in British Columbia and the floods in Quebec tell us that greenhouse gas emissions don’t have walls—we all feel the impacts of climate disasters. With our help, fast-growing emerging economies can leapfrog the dirty technologies that generate high greenhouse gases and adopt cleaner technologies from the outset. Helping them cut or avoid emissions through GCF is a cost-effective way to help combat climate change. At the heart of the Paris Agreement is the principle that wealthy nations contribute money through vehicles like GCF to help poorer nations meet their commitments.

For their part, poorer countries have agreed to join global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, even though industrialized countries are responsible for the majority of those emissions.

The GCF has said that there is huge demand for the GCF to fund projects worth up to $15-billion (in U.S. dollars). In 2015, Canada committed to increase its share to global finance, which in this case, based on Canada’s fair share, would be around $800-million (in Canadian dollars) over four years.

At this crucial moment, when other countries are deciding to step back from their international obligations on climate finance, Canada should step up and reaffirm that backsliding is unacceptable. Canada should support mechanisms that contribute to increased climate ambition around the world and promote a gender-responsive climate agenda. Considering the GCF’s growing portfolio, and Canada’s ability to increase its support, we encourage Canada to use this opportunity and announce that it intends to go beyond doubling its contribution to GCF, going from $300-million to $800-million for the GCF’s First Replenishment.

Catherine Abreu is executive director of CAN Canada. Nicolas Moyer is CEO Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC). 

The Hill Times 

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