Beyond net zero by 2050, Canada must commit to a more ambitious 2030 target and upholding the rights of land defenders
The United Nations has highlighted that climate change severely undermines human rights, that its scope is an unprecedented threat to human rights, and that it is a serious aggravator of gender-based violence against women.
While the UN COP21 climate summit in Paris aspired to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5C, the nationally determined contributions (the emission reductions each country pledged to reach by 2030) would result in 3C of warming.
The Paris Agreement in 2015 also stipulated that every five years countries would put forward more ambitious nationally determined contribution targets.
The Guardian now reports: “Leading nations have made a spate of commitments that have transformed the prospects for COP26: countries responsible for more than half of global emissions and two thirds of the global economy are now committed to net zero emissions by mid-century – the goal that scientists say is vital to avoid the worst ravages of climate breakdown.”
China has said it will reach net zero emissions by 2060.
The United States, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and dozens of smaller countries have now also committed to net zero by 2050.
Canada, the fourth largest producer and exporter of oil in the world, has also pledged to reach net zero by 2050.
The United Kingdom may make a similar pledge at the upcoming online Climate Ambition Summit scheduled for December 12 (that will be co-hosted by the UK COP26 Presidency, the United Nations and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy).
The Guardian further highlights: “With the long-term targets in place, attention will turn to [shorter term goals and] the commitments countries are making to reduce emissions in the next decade.”
That is a critical point.
In 2015, Canada pledged to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. That would mean a target of 512 megatonnes. But in 2017 Environment Canada projected that Canada could emit between 697 and 790 megatonnes in 2030.
Furthermore, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated emissions must be cut by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 to not exceed the 1.5C threshold. Applied to Canada, that would mean a target of 381 megatonnes in 2030.
Beyond the need for more ambitious shorter term nationally determined contribution targets, it is also crucial that the next agreement is legally-binding and that human rights – such as the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent as well as protection measures for land and environmental rights defenders – are included in that text.
On average, four land and environmental rights defenders have been killed every week since December 2015 (when the Paris Agreement was signed) and more than one-third of those fatal attacks have been against Indigenous peoples. Land defenders are on the frontline of the fight against climate breakdown and their rights must be upheld.
The UN Human Rights Council has already drawn attention to some of this in its resolution Recognizing the contribution of environmental human rights defenders to the enjoyment of human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development.
PBI-Canada intends to amplify these issues over the next year in the lead-up to the UN COP26 climate summit that will take place November 1-12, 2021.