Climate Summit Strengthens Climate Ambition and Advances the Protection of Nature
Last week’s Climate Summit, hosted by the United States and attended by forty world leaders, was a source of hope to those who are passionate about nature. The Summit was an important step towards mobilizing international ambition in the lead-up to the UN negotiations on the Paris Climate Accord slated for later this year in Glasgow.
At the Summit, a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, and Japan, significantly strengthened their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2030. The US also joined Britain and Norway to launch a new coalition to raise over a billion dollars for the protection of tropical forests.
While many hoped Canada would match the US commitment to halve emissions by 2030, our new 40-45% reduction target is a significant advance over Canada’s pre-budget target of 30%. It adds urgency to the need to transition to a clean energy economy and better protect carbon-rich ecosystems.
Nature Canada was pleased to see that President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both spoke to the importance of protecting and restoring nature as part of achieving emission reduction goals, and stemming the biodiversity crisis.
Canada expected to announce financial support for international biodiversity protection soon
Prime Minister Trudeau also referenced Canada’s commitment to conserve 30% of our lands and oceans by 2030, naming it as central to meeting and exceeding our Paris climate targets, reducing pollution, and achieving net-zero emission by 2050.
Minister of Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson spoke particularly to the importance of protecting carbon-rich landscapes. At a special session on nature-based solutions to climate, Minister Wilkinson stated that “our climate goals depend on us addressing the full carbon cycle and protecting nature.”
Canada has a special responsibility in this regard, because our boreal forests, peatlands, grasslands, and coastal areas store billions of tons of carbon. These Canadian landscapes are among the most biodiverse areas in the world.
As Minister Wilkinson said, “protecting carbon-rich natural systems is certainly good for nature, for the climate and for people. It is the first, most effective, and lowest-cost Nature-Based solution.”
Canada has an opportunity to strengthen its pursuit of nature-based climate solutions, and more specifically the protection of intact areas
Significant new funding for land and ocean protection was announced in last week’s federal budget. More will be needed to meet our targets, but Canada’s recent investments were historic.
Moreover, the recently announced US-Canada High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Ambition (the first report due in September) is focussing on protecting natural corridors, supporting Indigenous-led protection, and better measuring and managing land carbon sinks. We will need Canada’s leadership in each of these key areas, working as an ally for nature with the US, noted in our recent report.
Action with respect to forests will be particularly important
There is growing concern that we are underestimating the impact that logging has on our ability to fight climate change and this is having the perverse impact of actually encouraging the destruction of carbon-rich forests.
Canada can encourage forest protection and strengthen our efforts to fight climate change by better measuring the greenhouse gas emissions related to industrial logging and encouraging other countries to do so as well.
With two major upcoming UN summits — one on biodiversity in October and one on climate in November — Canada has an opportunity to be a leader in advocating for (and modeling) policies that protect carbon-rich, biodiverse natural areas. At home and around the world.
Sign up and stay tuned to Nature Canada channels for more updates on steps we can take together to encourage Canadian action and leadership.