Never EVER give up (Feb. 9, 2020)

[Written by Elizabeth May]

Good Sunday Morning!

Did you know that today – February 9th – is the deadline for the Canadian government to table its new climate target with the United Nations? That’s okay, Justin Trudeau and his environment minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, don’t know it either.

It is a little complicated. The Paris meeting, COP21, resulted in two agreements.

The Paris Agreement is the BIG ONE that everyone remembers. But COP21 also approved something called the COP21 Decision Document that included a lot of timelines to make sure things moved forward. The requirement for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prepare a special report on the difference in impacts between a world warmed by 1.5 degrees C global average temperature increase and a 2 degree difference was part of the COP21 decision document. The COP21 Decision Document also gave the IPCC the October 2018 deadline.

The requirement to get in a new target (known as our Nationally Determined Contribution –NDC) today is found in the following two paragraphs of the COP21 Decision Document. I have added text in CAPS to help with translation from UN- language:

  1. Also requests those Parties whose intended nationally determined contribution pursuant to decision 1/CP.20 contains a time frame up to 2030 (THAT MEANS CANADA SINCE OUR NDC IS 30% BELOW 2005 BY 2030) to communicate or update by 2020 these contributions and to do so every five years thereafter pursuant to Article 4, paragraph 9, of the Agreement;
  2. Decides that Parties shall submit to the secretariat their nationally determined contributions referred to in Article 4 of the Agreement at least 9 to 12 months in advance of the relevant session (COP26 IN GLASGOW) of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement with a view to facilitating the clarity, transparency and understanding of these contributions,including through a synthesis report prepared by the secretariat;


Today is nine months in advance of the opening of COP26 – which opens November 9, 2020.

Have any other nations missed the deadline? It is easier to list those who remembered. Two countries – the Marshall Islands and Suriname – have done so.

Unfortunately, as you can tell from the “REQUESTS” language in para 24, this deadline was not legally binding.

We must keep pushing our government to understand the dynamics of building momentum. We need Canada to at least double our NDC and file it soon. The sooner we do, the more we create pressure on other countries to table their new targets – and ensure those targets are consistent with the IPCC advice in the special 1.5 report referenced above.

One more missed opportunity, but in a week of disappointments.

The ruling of the federal Court on TMX was a major blow. But it was mostly a blow to morale. The appeals will go to the Supreme Court of Canada where we may get clarity around the question of what consultation means in the context of reconciliation.

And there is the larger reality that the TMX pipeline project is not actually fully approved. Hearings will now resume under what used to be called the National Energy Board (NEB) – under changed name (as a result of changes in the omnibus bill C-69) of the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER). Only 2/3rds of the pipeline route has been approved. One third of the 1,147 kilometre route (roughly Kamloops to Metro Vancouver) is still to be determined through the CER hearings.

Hearings will be held through the summer, with a report expected before the end of the year.

Also this week, we experienced the outrage of the RCMP entering Wet’suwet’en territory to enforce the injunction. Arrests and conflict should never have taken place. Nation to nation talks could have prevented all of this, but the federal and BC governments abdicated their responsibility. The UNDRIP law that BC just passed and our national ratification of UNDRIP are apparently more lip service than real. Our Green caucus will keep pushing for a real engagement to respect the role and rights of hereditary chiefs under the “rule of law” and consider the compromise routing offered by the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.

So, to end on a more positive note, I sense strong opposition from many Liberal MPs to approving the giant Teck oil sands mine. Many have asked me for deep details as they argue behind closed doors of the Liberal caucus to Reject Teck.

Please keep up the pressure. I am including the links to petitions to Parliament at the end of today’s missive.

My whole message today – whether on climate COPs – Teck- TMX or Coastal GasLink – is that we must never EVER – ever – give up!

Have yourself a wonderful day!!


  1. Petition on Wet’suwet’en: please click here!
  2. Petition on committing 50% of Canada’s public climate finance for developing countries towards adaptation, and at least 15% towards projects for gender equality: please click here!
  3. Petition on ending marine plastic pollution: please click here!
  4. Petition on pressing for electoral reform through a National Citizens’ assembly: please click here!

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