Last week I was proud to serve as Canada’s Head of Delegation at COP24, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Katowice, Poland. This assignment grew out of my work in 2016 developing the framework for Canada’s Centre for Greening Government (CGG) in the Treasury Board Secretariat, which at the Conference we learned was a unique initiative.
Through the full engagement of its ministries and their operations, our federal government – Canada’s largest employer, purchaser, and landlord – is stimulating innovation and accelerating the country’s transition to renewable energy and the clean economy. As a part of the central agency led by Treasury Board Minister Scott Brison, the CGG is coordinating the work of lowering our government’s own greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) across the country. In a nutshell, it oversees federal green procurement policies, shares best practices, tracks performance and drives results across federal government operations to achieve ambitious climate resilience and reduction targets.
A highlight of my week at this global climate conference in Katowice was the opportunity to announce the news that Canada has reduced climate emissions from its federal operations by 32% relative to 2005 levels, 4% lower than was reported last year. We are well on track to meet our goal of 40% reduction by 2030.
It was an exciting week. I engaged with political and climate leaders from dozens of countries, spoke on panels about Canada’s support for climate action, and met with Deputy Ministers of selected countries to establish working relationships on Greening Government. It kept me on my toes. Learning from scientists, academics, NGOs, business and government leaders from around the world, most of them veterans from the front lines of fighting climate change, gave me hope that the IPCC’s recent dire report is being taken seriously.
It was an honour to witness the COP24 opening ceremonies on behalf of Canada, and to hear the passion and urgency that has begun to make these COP negotiations so intense. I was inspired by the dedication and capability of our country’s negotiating and support teams, and Canada’s indefatigable Climate Ambassador, Patricia Fuller. And it was a pleasure to be able to share in various settings the details of Canada’s generous support for the climate efforts of developing nations, and of our Greening Government success story, reinforcing Canada’s credibility as a climate leader.
COP24 continues this week with Minister Catherine McKenna leading Canada’s delegation. While the first week defined the challenges, this final week involves some difficult negotiations. I join the millions of citizens around the globe who are rooting for Canada’s Minister McKenna – and other leaders – working to reach agreement on a practical, effective “Rulebook” for implementing the 2015 COP21 Paris Agreement. Let’s encourage all to “get onboard” so the world can apply the brakes to this hurtling global climate train.
December 12th, Ottawa