COP24 Katowice: frequently asked questions on the annual UN conference on climate change

What are the UNFCCC and COP?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit, to coordinate international efforts to address climate change.

Countries that have ratified the UNFCCC are known as “Parties,” and they meet as the Conference of the Parties (COP).

COP is the supreme body of the UNFCCC, and it currently meets once a year to review the UNFCCC’s progress and implementation.

This year’s COP will be held in Katowice, Poland, from December 2 to 14.

Why is COP24 important?

The science is clear. Climate change is real. It is caused by human beings, and it is happening now. Year after year, our planet is getting warmer, sea levels are rising, and communities are feeling the effects of climate change.

In Canada, we’re seeing this phenomenon too, from melting ice roads, increased flooding and fires, to eroding coasts, which means PEI is literally shrinking.

At COP21 (in 2015) close to 200 countries came together to tackle climate change through the historic Paris Agreement. Working with business leaders, governments at all levels, and civil society, we are developing solutions to climate change, which will not only ensure a sustainable planet but will also grow a clean economy. This transition, driven by market forces, is unstoppable, and Canada is at the forefront.

COP24 will see the world come together again, this time to finalize the rules to put the Paris Agreement into action. The world needs climate action now, and these are exciting times for us as we build a clean economy and create more opportunities for middle-class Canadians.

What is Canada aiming to achieve at COP24?

Canada was instrumental in negotiating the Paris Agreement, in 2015, and has been pushing for ambitious international climate action since then.

Countries will finalize the set of rules that will make possible putting the Paris Agreement into action.

The Paris Agreement rule book will outline how countries will commit to reducing climate-harming emissions and how they each will fairly report on their progress. The rules will enable countries to see the progress on climate action and identify areas for future work.

Canada is committed to finalizing the Paris Agreement rule book at COP and will be playing a leadership role to make it a reality. Provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, labour groups, business and industry, as well as youth will be part of the Canadian delegation, and they will have an opportunity to share their unique and valuable perspectives on climate action.

At COP24, Canada will also demonstrate our ongoing efforts in providing support to developing countries.

Who will represent Canada at COP24?

To fully support Canada’s delegation, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, will lead the Canadian delegation during the ministerial segment of COP24, during the second week of COP. Canada’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, Catherine Stewart, will head the delegation when the Minister is not present.

What is the Minister’s agenda at COP24?

Minister McKenna has a full agenda at COP24. Her priorities include:

  • working to finalize the Paris Agreement rule book guiding how countries will implement and report on their progress in meeting the Paris Agreement
  • encouraging and sustaining the momentum toward the global implementation of the Paris Agreement
  • encouraging public- and private-sector investments toward a low-carbon future
  • supporting connections between Canadian and international business actors in the sustainable-technology sector
  • advocating for clear commitments to reducing emissions
  • working to generate enhanced action to help citizens and countries adapt to a changing climate
  • promoting collaboration among international partners on various approaches to climate action (for example: just transition, powering past coal, sustainable finance, clean technology)
  • promoting Indigenous leadership in climate action internationally
  • promoting transparency and accountability in greenhouse gas emissions reporting and climate action
  • supporting a stronger role for women in climate action and decision-making
  • sharing knowledge and experiences of Canada’s ambitious climate action, with officials from other countries
What is the composition of the Canadian delegation?

Canada’s delegation will include Indigenous leaders, representatives from provinces and territories, youth, business leaders, environmental non-governmental organizations, representatives from labour organizations, and opposition members of Parliament.

Canada’s federal government negotiators will represent Canada’s positions at the various negotiating sessions.

When will the delegation list be available? May I have a copy of the delegation list?

The provisional list of participants will soon be posted on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website.

What will be the total cost of Canada’s delegation at COP24?

The total cost of Canada’s participation in COP24 is not finalized at this time as the event is ongoing.

What is Canada doing at home to meet its emissions reduction targets and address climate change?

Canada is taking ambitious climate action at home. Our comprehensive climate plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, was developed with provinces, territories, and Indigenous Peoples of Canada. It will help us meet or exceed our Paris Agreement greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels, by 2030.

Thanks to a wide range of policies, programs, and investments, we have already seen the biggest improvement in Canada’s emissions outlook since reporting began. The significant decline in Canada’s projected emissions for 2030 is equivalent to approximately a third of Canada’s emissions in 2015, and it is widespread across all economic sectors, reflecting the breadth and depth of the Pan-Canadian Framework.

A key pillar of the Pan-Canadian Framework is Canada’s approach to pricing carbon pollution. A price on carbon pollution, which will apply across Canada starting in 2019, is the most effective way to reduce emissions, help Canadians save money and energy, and encourage greater investment in new clean technologies.

In addition to carbon-pollution pricing, Canada has also introduced a number of complementary policies, programs, and investments to help reduce emissions, including:

  • establishing the $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund to help households and businesses save money and energy
  • developing a clean-fuel standard that will be applied across multiple sectors to promote clean technology and lower carbon-fuel use across the economy for homes, buildings, and industry
  • publishing draft regulations to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 per cent by 2025
  • requiring heavy-duty vehicles, such as school buses and tractor trailers, to become more fuel efficient to make our communities healthier, reduce smog and carbon pollution, and help companies save money on operating costs
  • publishing final regulations to reduce the use of climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons (or HFCs)
  • investing more than $2.3 billion to support clean technology in Canada and the growth of Canadian firms and exports
  • developing a zero-emissions-vehicle strategy
  • investing $21.9 billion to support green infrastructure, including to support renewable energy, electric-vehicle charging, natural gas and hydrogen refueling stations, and new building codes and $20.1 billion to support urban public transit

To enhance resilience to the impacts of a changing climate, Canada has launched a suite of programs and initiatives, including the Canadian Centre for Climate Services, which will improve access to climate science, serve as the authoritative federal source for climate information and resources, and strengthen capacity to incorporate climate change considerations in adaptation decision-making. Canada is also investing in built and natural infrastructure to increase climate resilience in Canadian communities, through the $2 billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, launched in May 2018. Efforts are also underway to better understand and address climate-related health risks such as extreme heat and infectious diseases.

Canadian Centre for Climate Services
Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund

As we move forward, the Government of Canada will continue to work with all partners, including provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and the business community to seize new opportunities in the transition to a clean-growth economy.

How is Canada supporting developing countries in addressing climate change?

By 2020, Canada will have contributed $2.65 billion ($800 million per year) to help developing countries around the world reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and be better equipped to resist the effects of climate change. Providing developing countries with the resources they need to adapt to climate change is an essential approach when addressing climate change and sustainable development under the Paris Agreement.

Canada’s contribution will support the development of clean and renewable energy, early warning systems, and urgent climate change adaptation projects in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries. This historic commitment represents our largest international climate investment ever and illustrates Canada’s concrete support for moving the global economy to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.

Canada will continue to work with other donor countries toward our collective commitment to reach the goal of mobilizing US$100 billion per year in climate financing by 2020, using a variety of public and private financial sources.

For more on Canada’s climate finance, please visit International climate financing.

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