Trudeau to world leaders on climate: ‘Canada is back’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends Conference of the Parties in Paris to discuss climate change. (Photo: Reuters/Stephane Mahe) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends Conference of the Parties in Paris to discuss climate change. (Photo: Reuters/Stephane Mahe)

Christine Tippett
Senior Reporter

Leaders from over 150 countries are in the City of Light this week hoping to create a concrete framework for a global response to climate change.

The Conference of the Parties has been gathering every year since 1992 to negotiate a plan of action. This year’s meeting in Paris is the twenty-first installment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touched down on Monday to join the motley crew of premiers, party leaders and cabinet ministers that make up Canada’s delegation.

Trudeau asserted Canada’s renewed determination in the fight against global warming in his opening speech at the Paris climate conference.

“Canada is back, we’re here to help build an agreement to make our children and grandchildren proud,” he said. “Our government is making climate change a top priority.”

This in stark contrast with his predecessor Stephen Harper who brought little weight to the international meetings which are quickly becoming touted as the most important of our time.

More than 40,000 people are expected to participate at the conference including government workers, lobbyists and representatives from business, industry and agriculture, as well as environmental groups.

The conference is running for two weeks as representatives from over 190 countries discuss possible initiatives. According to the BBC, it’s taken a long time to reach an agreement because decisions must be made by consensus.

Time is of the essence, however, as negotiators agreed in 2011 that a deal had to be reached by the end of 2015 and global temperatures are predicted to rise by four to six degrees Celsius if no action is taken.

Further compounding the issue, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming of more than two degrees Celsius would have serious consequences.

The conference concludes on Dec. 11, leaving just a week from now for a consensus to be reached.

Trudeau said Canada will do its part to combat climate change by acting on these principles:

Relying on scientific evidence and advice

Implementing policies to develop low-carbon economy, including carbon pricing

Working with provincial and territorial leaders, city mayors and indigenous leaders to coordinate efforts

Helping developing nations adapt to climate change challenges

Approaching climate change as an opportunity rather than a challenge

1 degree Celsius rise in average temperature since 1850.

2 degrees Celsius is the agreed gateway to dangerous global warming

30 per cent rise in carbon dioxide levels since Industrial Revolution.

Nine of 10 hottest years recorded have happened since 2000.

-With files from Malcolm Campbell.

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