COP23 Bonn: annual UN conference on climate change

The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties, commonly known as COP23, took place in Bonn, Germany, from November 6 to 17, 2017. It was an opportunity for Canada to showcase its ongoing leadership and climate actions to date. The conference was convened under the presidency of Fiji, with Canada providing $1.4 million in support of its leadership.

Together with our partners—provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples and organizations, business leaders, and environmental groups—we maintained critical momentum on global climate action and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.  

Highlights from COP23



HON. CATHERINE MCKENNA (Minister of Environment and Climate Change): So it’s time to say goodbye to COP23 in Bonn; at the tracks right now, literally on our way home, to Frankfurt and then back to Canada.

So it was the big Powering Past Coal Alliance event. This was the brain child of the U.K. Minister Claire Perry and me a few months ago where we said we need to move past coal. Let’s start an alliance. We thought we’d have a few countries. We actually had 25 partners and actually Oregon and El Salvador joined the last minute, actually when we made the announcement. It was really great to show the momentum.

There was great talk about why it was so important that the market has moved on coal: renewables are much cheaper, but also the impact, a million people, almost a million people dying every year of health impacts. And Ontario made a great intervention, pointing out that they used to have, one year they had 50 smog days. The year they phased out coal, 2014, zero, zero impacts on kids, on elderly people. And clearly really important to reduce our emissions, so that we can move forward on the Paris Agreement.

Also really pleased to see where we’re getting at. I think we’re going to land the Indigenous People’s Platform. We worked really close with our indigenous leaders to get that done.

Also our gender action plan. So an action packed at COP.

Actually, really looking forward to getting home and seeing my kids and getting some sleep.

COP23 videos


COP23 photo gallery

Canada’s delegation at COP23

Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, led the Canadian delegation during the ministerial segment of COP23. She was joined by Canada’s Ambassador to Germany and Special Envoy to the European Union, Stéphane Dion. Canada’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, Catherine Stewart, headed the delegation during the first week.

In addition to federal negotiators and communications experts, the Canadian delegation also included Indigenous leaders; representatives from the provinces, territories, and municipalities; youth; business leaders; environmental non-governmental organizations; and members of Parliament.

Canada’s priorities at COP23

Canada made tremendous progress with other countries and business and civil-society leaders at COP23. Read about the events and check out the COP23 photo gallery or COP23 videos for highlights from the conference.

Meeting with Indigenous Peoples

Minister McKenna met with Indigenous Peoples to discuss climate action and traditional knowledge. She also hosted the Indigenous Leadership on Climate Action in Canada panel. Canadian Indigenous leaders shared their experiences, practices, and innovations in understanding and addressing the impacts of climate change.

Canada played a leadership role in adopting the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform to strengthen knowledge; facilitating the sharing of best practices and lessons learned; and enhancing the engagement of Indigenous Peoples, in the United Nations climate conference process.

Building international partnerships

Minister McKenna chaired the High-Level Assembly of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants. This meeting brought together countries that share the common goal of reducing pollutants that not only contribute to climate change but also impact the air quality of millions of citizens around the world.

Canada, Mexico, and the United States Climate Alliance—a bipartisan coalition of 15 U.S. governors—agreed to strengthen their climate initiatives through a new North American Climate Leadership Dialogue. The dialogue will address topics including clean transportation and zero-emission vehicles, vehicle efficiency, clean technology, the support of clean power while reducing reliance on coal-fired electricity, carbon-pricing initiatives, and the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants. They will share progress on these goals at the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit to be hosted by California, this September.

Canada, China, and the European Union came together at COP23 to reinforce their commitment to continued cooperation and leadership on climate change, in the lead up to COP24, including by co-convening a second Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action, in 2018.

Canada and the United Kingdom launched the global Powering Past Coal Alliance. Over 25 partners joined the alliance to commit to phasing out traditional coal-fired electricity—recognizing the environmental, economic, and human-health benefits of this action. The number of partners will continue to grow as governments, businesses, and organizations unite to accelerate clean growth and transition to low-carbon economies.

Minister McKenna also met with leaders from Latin American countries (Chile, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Costa Rica), California, and Canadian provinces to advance work on carbon pricing in the Americas.

Financing climate action

Canada announced it will invest more than $2 million over three years to support climate action by Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal. This funding will help to develop regulations and industry standards that will reduce methane emissions from landfills.

Promoting gender equality

Canada took a leadership role to help achieve the first-ever Gender Action Plan, which aims to increase the participation of women in all United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change processes. It also seeks to increase awareness of and support for the development and effective implementation of gender-responsive climate policy at all levels of government.

Minister McKenna was also joined by the President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, Mary Robinson, and Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, in a gender talanoa—a listening and learning event. Representatives from Indigenous organizations and women’s groups shared their experiences and climate actions.

Creating opportunities for Canadian businesses

Minister McKenna moderated a panel discussion among Canadian members of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition to highlight opportunities for Canadian businesses to further contribute to both the domestic and global conversation on carbon pricing and competitiveness.

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