Loading articles...

Local environmentalist optimistic as PM signs climate change deal

Last Updated Apr 22, 2016 at 11:01 am PDT

(Courtesy @JustinTrudeau)

There are 171 countries signing the agreement

The prime minister says Canada will invest $2.56 billion over the next five years

NEW YORK, NY. (NEWS 1130) – On this Earth Day, Leaders from 171 countries are signing the Paris Agreement on climate change as the landmark deal takes a key step toward entering into force years ahead of schedule.

The ceremony is setting a record for international diplomacy as never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day but countries that don’t sign today have a year to do so.

Many now expect the climate agreement to enter into force long before the original deadline of 2020. Some say it could happen this year. “We are in a race against time,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering.” The era of consumption without consequences is over.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought cheers from the gathering by speaking up for developing countries, saying “they shouldn’t be punished for a problem they didn’t create.”

He says Canada will invest $2.56 billion over the next five years to help such countries meet the goals of the climate agreement. He also says Canada will ratify the climate agreement later this year. “Climate change will test our intelligence, our passion and our will but we are equal to that challenge.”

The agreement will see 55 countries representing at least 55 per cent of global emissions formally join. The US and China, which together account for nearly 40 per cent of global emissions, have said they intend to join this year.

BC environmentalist weighs in on agreement

A local environmentalist says he feels optimistic about this deal but adds action, not words, will define its success.

In the past, Canada has failed to hit environmental targets promised in other agreements. Take the Kyoto Agreement, signed by the Chretien government, or the Copenhagen Deal signed during Stephen Harper’s time in power.

Ben West with the environmental group Tanker Free BC says there’s still a lot of work ahead for us to clean up our act. “Frankly, if we don’t take real decisive action in Canada then we’re not going to be reducing our emissions by one-third in the next couple of decades.”

Of particular concern for West, is the prime minister’s talk about building pipelines to finance a transition to green energy, an approach he says is not compatible with achieving the targets outlined in the Paris Accord.