Last April, 174 countries plus the European Union signed the Paris Agreement. The agreement ultimately calls on these countries to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius this century.
The agreement, which goes into full force this Friday, Nov. 4, requires countries to prepare and maintain their respective plans to help combat climate change.
This sounds promising, and in many ways it is. For one, it calls on countries to track each other’s environmental shames and successes on an international stage for years to come.
However, the agreement allows countries to determine their own level of contributions in order to suit their nation’s needs.
Canada’s plan by 2030 is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below the levels recorded in 2005, which was Canada’s worst year for emissions.
Despite a requirement for countries to keep up with transparent emission inventories, there are no penalties for not reaching these targets.
So where will the pressure for real change come from?
In an ideal world, the current state of the environment would be the only pressure needed. But looking at Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent environmental decisions, it’s clear we are not living in an ideal world.
Recently, Trudeau gave conditional approval for the Pacific Northwest LNG terminal off the coast of British Columbia. This fracking poses threats to the area’s salmon habitat.
Trudeau also continues to play around with the idea of building the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, despite the fact that approval would tie Canada up in fossil fuels for years to come.
A group of environmental activists wrote an open letter to Trudeau in September, urging for a reform to the current federal review process on energy projects.
They argue that the current system doesn’t properly break down exactly how the country will manage to build pipelines and expand Alberta oilsands production, while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
This Friday marks the beginning of the end of environmental ignorance for the world as a whole but says little about Canada’s place in it all.
Now that the agreement is officially kicking off, we need to keep an extra critical eye on Trudeau’s environmental decisions, judging by things like the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Essentially, the Paris Agreement is just a babysitter, and Trudeau can continue to act on environmental issues however he pleases.