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What did Canada sign on for at COP26?

Barrie -

The two-week United Nations COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland concluded on Saturday, with the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Here’s a closer look at what was included in the pact, and what it means for Canada.


The Glasgow Climate Pact reaffirmed commitments made by signatories of the Paris Agreement. In the Paris Agreement – signed in 2016 -- countries agreed to limit global warming to “well below” 2 C, and committed to making an effort to limit warming to 1.5 C.

Under the Paris Agreement, each country also agreed to outline their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and provide a progress update every five years at the UN summit.

However, the signatories of the Glasgow Climate Pact have agreed to revisit their NDCs at the next climate summit scheduled for 2022, instead of in 2025.


Ending public support for oil and gas: Canada, the U.S. and U.K. were among signatories to a deal to stop any new, direct public financing for oil, gas and coal development by the end of 2022. Instead, the countries agreed to invest in renewable energy.

Canada’s natural resource minister called it a “big deal.”

“It’s a signal that many countries in this world are making this commitment not to use public resources to finance further exploration and development for fossil fuels,” Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in Glasgow.

The deal commits signatories to stop using loans, loan guarantees, share purchases and insurance coverage from any government or government agency to finance new international fossil fuel developments.

Phasing out coal: In 2018, Canada announced regulations to phase out traditional coal-fired electricity by 2030, and greenhouse gas regulations for natural gas-fired electricity.

Canada and the U.K. founded the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which now has 165 signatories, 28 of which joined during COP26.

During the summit ,Trudeau announced Canada is working towards ending thermal coal exports by no later than 2030, and up to $1 billion for the Climate Investment Funds Accelerated Coal Transition Investment Program, to help developing countries transition from coal-fired electricity to clean power.

However, India, the United States and Australia – some of the world’s largest coal burning nations – did not sign the pledge to phase out coal.

Instead, the final Glasgow Climate Pact text was revised to switch the phrase “phase out unabated coal” with “phase down.” 

Methane emissions reduction: Canada also re-upped its support for the Global Methane Pledge. The federal government initially offered its support of the pledge in October, vowing to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent from levels recorded in 2020 by 2030. The pledge now has 110 supporters.

According to a press release from Environment and Climate Change Canada, methane accounts for about 13 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Vehicle emissions: Canada signed a joint declaration saying it would work towards ensuring all sales of new cars and vans would be net zero emissions globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in “leading markets.”

Canada also signed a memorandum of understanding alongside 14 other countries that said it would work towards a 100 per cent zero emissions on new truck and bus sales by 2040, with 30 per cent by 2030.

Capping oil and gas emissions: Speaking at the summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said the country would put a cap on oil and gas sector emissions to ensure they decrease at a rate that they would reach net-zero by 2050.

Trudeau’s comments were in keeping with campaign promises the federal Liberal party made during the 2021 election campaign cycle.

Global carbon pricing: Trudeau also touted Canada’s carbon pricing, and called for a global price on carbon.

Trudeau said currently only about 20 per cent of global emissions are covered by a price on pollution. He proposed that number be tripled to 60 per cent by 2030.


Simon Dyer, deputy executive director at the Pembina Institute, said he thinks progress was made at COP26.

“There was some significant commitments, they agreed to phase down coal, there was a mention of phasing out fossil fuel subsidies for the first time ever and a number of countries strengthened their commitments,” he told CTV News.

Dyer said, though, that there is “still lots of work to be done.”

“We’re not on track to prevent dangerous warming yet, but it’s certainly the most ambitious set of commitments we’ve ever seen,” he said. “So progress is being made.”

Dyer said Canada was “very active” at COP26.

“They announced some of their platform commitments from the federal election, of course,” he said. “The big one, I think, is this commitment to finally reducing emissions for the oil and gas sectors so that’s obviously very significant.”

Dyer said Canada also “really tried” to hold its carbon pricing as an example and “encourage other organizations to join them there.”

Dyer noted the country’s commitment to the Powering Past Coal Alliance, adding that “in general, I think it was quite well received.”

Michael Bernstein, the executive director of Canadians for clean prosperity, called the two week summit a “really encouraging step forward.”

“There’s no question that not everything that some people hoped for was achieved,” he said. “But we have to look at these annual events as whether we’re making progress towards the goal, and I think there were some notable achievements, including some important deals among countries.”

Bernstein said we’re starting to see “ambitious commitments” from world leaders.

“What we now need to see is those words translated into actions and significant policies,” he said.

Bernstein said the COP27 summit next year will be an “opportunity to hold those politicians feet to the fire -- so to speak -- and make sure they do what they’ve now pledged to.”

Bernstein said he is looking at three “key polices” that could help Canada reach about three quarters of its goal -- to reduce the country’s emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030.

“Those are the clean electricity standard, which ensures we're producing net zero electricity by 2035,” he explained. “Secondly, that we can regulate oil and gas emissions, not production, but emissions so that those begin to decline.”

Third, Bernstein said is a set of policies to move the country’s vehicles towards electric vehicles.


But not everyone was as optimistic as the summit came to an end.

Sabaa Khan is the head of the David Suzuki climate team and director-general for Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

She told CTV News that the expectations were “really high” at the start of the summit.

“For the first time, you know, there was massive mobilization,” Khan said. “We were hearing youth voices, Indigenous voices, small island nations really pointing out the sense of urgency, and the final deal that has come out, you know, and this sense of urgency has not been translated into it.”

She called the final deal a “major disappointment, in many respects,” adding that many decisions from COP26 were “pushed for COP27.”

“The story doesn't end here, of course, there's a lot more work to be done,” Khan said.

Looking forward, Khan said she would like to see Canada’s ministers who were present at the summit, bring those debates back to the House of Commons.

“So that we can really start seeing pan-governmental approaches to climate change, not only, you know, amongst climate change ministers, but also trade ministers and the rest of the government,” she said.

Khan said over the next few months the federal government’s ability to deliver on the promises outlined at COP26 and outlining clear timelines will be “key.”

-With files from the Canadian Press Top Stories

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