Monday 21 November 2016

Blog Post 9 – COP Day 3

Whew – Day 3 was one crazy day. For some reason, all the most interesting events and receptions took place on this day. It was definitely the most action-packed, learning-ful day of the week. I’m still trying to soak it all in!

To give you a sense, we arrived much earlier today and enjoyed a bit of peace at the site before the throngs of people arrived around 8:30am. First up was a carbon markets event, where I learned more about the international cooperation between California, Quebec, and Ontario. If you didn’t already know, the carbon market agreement between Quebec, California, and soon-to-be Ontario is the only one in the world that is operated by non-national governments! These three jurisdictions feel that carbon markets, carbon pricing, and reducing fossil fuel subsidies are essential tools for transitioning to a low-emissions economy. It will be interesting to see the multitude of pathways Parties choose to help achieve a low-emissions future in the coming years.

Next up was an event about best practices for reforming fossil fuel subsidies. I was in over my head in this event for sure; the subsidies world is not one I’m particularly familiar with. The event largely focused on being smart about how to reform fossil fuel subsidies, for example, the panelist from Finland explained their method of identifying which subsidies were the least important to the fossil fuel industry, and redirecting those funds into social and health initiatives. This panelist stressed the importance of carefully evaluating the influence of subsidies on both the domestic and international economy, and cautioned that ending all subsidies at once would severely impact a country’s financial resources. This is not a perspective I am particularly accustomed to hearing, so it was an interesting standpoint to learn about!

Fossil fuel subsidy reform event at the Nordic Pavilion

Rebecca and I then played tag-team for the rest of the day, as most of the events we wanted to attend overlapped slightly. She would leave the first event early to get to the second one on time, while I stayed behind until the end of the first, then went to relieve Rebecca at the next event. Pretty great teamwork!

Speaking of teamwork, here Rebecca and I are driving some sort of vehicle

A particularly relevant and interesting event for us today was the High-Level Panel on Canadian Indigenous Leadership on Climate Change, moderated by Minister McKenna. The indigenous leaders on the panel included Natan Obed (President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami), Robert Bertrand (National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples), Francyne Joe (President of the Native Women's Association of Canada) and Francois Paulette (Elder of the Dene Nation). The event also included perspectives from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, the Treaty 7 Blood Tribe, and President of the National Inuit Youth Council in Canada, Maatalii Okalik.

Indigenous panel hosted by Minister McKenna

Most of the panelists highlighted the fact that indigenous peoples across Canada are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because of their extremely close connections to the land. This affects their ability to access traditional foods, resources and medicines; to access land on which to practice their culture and teach their children; and to practice their language, which is so intricately tied to their land.

Francyne Joe emphasized that indigenous women, as the traditional knowledge holders, have a key role to play in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Her key message was that including indigenous women in decision-making leads to greater protection of resources, which is especially important in the face of climate change.

One Inuit panelist brought up the idea that parts of Canada (particularly the North) could be thought of as more similar to developing countries than to developed countries, and a discussion on these areas being able to access the same funds for mitigation and adaption should be considered.

Maatalii Okalik speaking at the Indigenous panel

From there, we hustled to catch a good chunk of a late evening event on US climate change policy post-election. We heard a lot of similar things as at the event I described in Blog Post 6, but it was great to hear the same tone of optimism and positivity coming from a larger range of panelists, including industry leaders and a Democrat Senator from the US.  

Myself and Minister Catherine McKenna at the Canada Reception

We ducked out of that event to attend the Canada Reception, hosted by Minister McKenna for all Canadian stakeholder groups and indigenous nation representatives. It was great to see the Canadian delegation out in full force. In attendance were federal staff from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, politicians (such as Linda Duncan, a New Democrat MP in the House of Commons), premiers, provincial and territorial representatives, the Canadian Youth Delegation and other youth, members of E/NGOs and the private sector, and indigenous members and leaders.

What a crazy day! The reception was just the cherry on top of a supreme day, and was a great way to get an appreciation of the true depth and breadth of people who are at COP22 and who care about climate action’s future.

Myself and Louise Metivier, chief climate change negotiator for Canada, at the Canada Reception

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