Canada joined a powerful new negotiating bloc of countries coordinating a push for a strong, legally binding climate agreement at the Paris COP21 negotiations.
This week Canada joined the High Ambition Coalition of both rich and poor countries after entering into dialogue with the EU to learn more about the initiative, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna’s office told DeSmog Canada.
The Coalition, which the Guardian first reported has been meeting in secret for six months, includes 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific as well as the EU and the U.S., which joined the group on Tuesday. News is just breaking that Brazil has also joined the illustrious group.
Within the negotiations the Coalition is calling for a clear long-term temperature goal in the Paris climate treaty, as well as strong review rules and a system for keeping track of how well nations are meeting their climate targets.
Canada’s allegiance to the ambitious group comes at a critical time, as lead negotiators are working around the clock to finalize an agreement that will set the agenda for international climate policy for years, even decades, to come. It’s the final countdown.
"I am encouraged by the continued progress we made overnight,” McKenna said in a statement released to media. “We're seeing good cooperation around the table on many of the issues Canada has pushed for throughout the negotiations; for instance the commitment to ratcheting up our ambition every five years, and to transparency in each country's reporting process. These are crucial to our long-term success.”
McKenna added the draft text negotiators are working to finalize includes both a reference to keeping global temperatures to “well below two degrees Celsius” as well as “pursuing efforts to limit increase to 1.5 degrees.”
On the opening day of the Paris negotiations over 100 countries, including several groups of small island nations, called on negotiators to craft an agreement that would align with new science that indicates a temperature increase of above 1.5 degrees could spell disaster for low lying island nations.
“Canada has advocated for this recognition of the urgency of the threat to small-island states, like the Marshall Islands with whom we now stand as part of the High Ambition Coalition,” McKenna said. “The Coalition brings together developed and developing countries from around the world as we lay the groundwork for a safe climate future.”
McKenna, who is one of 14 international ministers tasked with facilitating the negotiations, added Canada continues to advocate for the inclusion of human and indigenous rights in the agreement.
“We're entering the home stretch now,” she said. “I am hopeful the final days and hours will see all parties with me at the table and working together to conclude this agreement. And that this agreement will become a new pathway to a greener economy and a cleaner planet."