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Canada makes new environmental pledges at UN climate conference

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While the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland continues until Friday, Canada has already made several key environmental commitments, including the start of climate financing for poorer countries, and the end of thermal coal exports.

The COP26 summit, which spans nearly two weeks, brings together countries that want to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

For Canada, the summit may result in it becoming the first major oil-producing country to move towards capping and reducing pollution from the oil and gas sector to net-zero by 2050. As the fourth largest producer and third largest exporter of oil in the world, the oil and gas sector is the largest contributor to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 25% of total emissions.

To achieve Canada’s goal of net-zero by 2050, the federal government will set five-year targets and will ensure that the sector makes a meaningful contribution to meeting Canada’s 2030 climate goals. The government is also seeking the advice of the Net-Zero Advisory Body on how best to move forward on its approach.

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In the same vein, Canada, alongside other major economies such as the U.S., U.K. and 21 other countries, will further prioritize support for clean technology and end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel sector by the end of 2022.

Canada is also working towards ending exports of thermal coal by no later than 2030, announced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also made clear he wanted to accelerate the phasing out of conventional coal-fired electricity, which will cut carbon pollution by nearly 13 million tonnes in 2030.

“Climate action can’t wait,” announced Trudeau. “Since 2015, Canada has been a committed partner in the fight against climate change, and as we move to a net-zero future, we will continue to do our part to cut pollution and build a cleaner future for everyone,” he added.

Trudeau also announced investments of more than $185 million to support coal workers and their communities through the transition to cleaner energy.

At the summit, at least 23 countries have made new commitments to phase out coal power, including five of the world’s top 20 coal power-using countries.

Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, also announced that Canada wants to ensure it is helping developing countries hardest hit by the impacts of climate change, and live up to the goal of delivering $100 billion in climate finance from developed countries, despite already missing the 2020 funding target.

A new joint delivery plan with Germany, released last week, provides clarity on when and how developed countries will meet the $100-billion annual climate finance goal through 2025.

“While more work needs to be done,” announced Wilkinson, “I hope that we can instill confidence and trust that developed countries will deliver on their promises to the developing world and that Canada will continue to be a constructive player to this end internationally.”

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