Paris last chance for world leaders to tackle climate change: May
Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015 6:46PM EST
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says the fast-approaching Paris climate change summit will be the last opportunity for the world to take real steps to reverse the effects of global warming.
Speaking to CTV’s Power Play, May emphasized the need for world leaders to agree on a strong global climate change treaty.
“This is it. We have to have a treaty that works.”
May’s comments come as the United Nations declared 2015 the hottest year on record, before the year is even over. A World Meteorological Organization report Wednesday said man-made global warming and a strong El Nino are to blame for the record-breaking global temperatures this year.
A major part of the Paris treaty negotiations will focus on a cap on the global temperature increase. Article 2 of the draft agreement leaves open the option to commit to a range of caps on global temperature increases, from below 1.5 C to 2 C. While May acknowledged that the agreement probably won’t reach 2 C, she said world leaders must get the global temperature commitment as low as possible.
“Right now, we know that with the collective total of commitments, even if all the countries meet the commitments they’ve currently promised, we don't avoid 2 degrees. We would shoot right by it at the upper range at 3.7 degrees,” she said.
For May, this is one of many critical details in the draft deal.
“This text is full of option A, B, C, or D on almost every issue. If we go for the strongest of the options in all of the categories of decision making, we could have a real treaty that gets us to a much better place,” said May.
She is also pushing for regular reviews of the treaty commitments every five years, as opposed to other vague review options such as “adjustments at any time” or “before the end of the period of implementation.”
A call for new Canadian targets
Five days out from the highly anticipated summit, May says she is still hopeful that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take new Canadian emissions targets to Paris.
The previous Conservative government had submitted Canada’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. May questioned why Trudeau would want to take Stephen Harper’s commitments to Paris, and not his government’s own.
“Why would a new prime minister want to go through an entire conference, where the negotiations matter, and we are carrying the previous government’s plan?” said May. “He goes with Stephen Harper’s plan. Is that what he really wants?”
After years of Canada winning the “Fossil of the Year Award” at UN climate talks, May rejected any notion that the country is not influential in the global fight against climate change.
“When Canada’s back in the room working for a real deal, we command a lot of respect in the room and we know how to build bridges between people who are squabbling to get a treaty that works.”
With files from the Associated Press