As the COP21 climate talks get underway in Paris, Canada is enjoying a newfound place in the international spotlight.
Canada announced today it will contribute $30 million to finance climate projects in the world’s least developed countries as part of a larger $2.65 billion pledge that will support the transition to low-carbon energy sources in developing nations.
This contribution is a significant overhaul of Canada’s previous $300 million pledge under the Conservative government.
“Canada recognizes the importance of supporting adaptation action in the most vulnerable countries, which are struggling with the impacts of climate change,” Catherine McKenna, environment and climate change minister, said. “We are proud to be part of this joint effort to further support the Least Developed Countries Fund.”
Even Bill Gates expressed his appreciation for Canada's larger pledge.
— Ségolène Royal (@RoyalSegolene) November 30, 2015
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also told media Canada still has work to do.
“We have a tremendous level of action and commitments made, and we know we have work to do, which is why we started the work of getting together even before coming to Paris," he said.
Trudeau added Canada has an opportunity to become a “purveyor of solutions” and put forward “innovative thinking” at the climate talks.
Speaking alongside other heads of state, Trudeau said, "Canada is back my good friends we’re here to help!" to applause.
Federal Green party leader Elizabeth May said Canada’s broad delegation to the talks, which includes Premiers, Ministers and members of the opposition, points in a positive direction.
“First Nations and NGOs are invited to participate the way they used to,” May said. “It’s back to normal. It’s how it used to be.”
“I think we and all Canadians should work as hard as we can to put together new targets, new commitments to financing, and re-ratify the Kyoto protocol in order to have access to new clean energy.”
"Everyone is waiting to see what 'New Canada' will do."
May added she hopes to see Canada’s delegation push for a strong agreement, including a mandatory review of countries’ progress every three years.
She also hopes to see more legally binding language in the treaty.
“We know the targets won’t be legally binding but the architecture of the treaty should be legally binding — and that’s still in square brackets,” May said.
She added, “everyone wants to see what New Canada will do.”
Canada has previously played a positive role in the climate negotiations.
“As the past has shown, Canada can punch above its weight for good, but can also punch above its weight for bad when it wants to sabotage progress,” she said.
“I think the public mobilization and citizen movements need to keep pushing government. In the context of the horrors of what happened in Paris people can get easily distracted by terrorism but as terrifying as ISIS is, climate change is a much bigger problem.”
“Climate changes is relevant to unrest in Syria through drought,” she said. “We need to keep pushing.”