Here’s our take on COP26

First Impressions

Before the summit even began it was set up for criticism.  The mass of delegates, the transport by air and on the ground and the costs to house and feed the delegates was unnecessary and could easily have been avoided in lieu of an online conference.  The carbon footprint alone left by the conference was embarrassing.

Our Canadian delegation sent the largest contingent – 277 bureaucrats.  Not the United States, the Soviet Union, or China ( 0 delegates, online only), but Canada, at a cost not yet determined. Conversely in 2019 we sent half that many at a cost of ¾ of a million dollars

The total number of delegates attending the conference – 39,509. Staggering.

Issues regarding Accountability

While there’s an eagerness to reduce emissions, there are no concrete policies yet in place to achieve this. The summit had all kinds of big announcements but not much about the accountability, tracking and verification of action on those announcements.

Really there was very little evidence governments are signing off on doing anything specific. There was too much of ‘ we need to consider this or look into this further and not enough of ‘we will do this ‘.

Strong robust policy is needed to actually drive whats required to reduce emissions. That’s the missing piece at this point.

Little acknowledgement of Help for Third World Countries

There have been tremendous effects of climate change on vulnerable people and communities in the third world. We need to address what is owed to people who have barely contributed to global warming but are most harmed by it.


Pledges to curb methane emissions,  to phase out coal-fired power,  to stop overseas fossil fuel financing and halt deforestation and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies were all positive.

As well  a signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending.   However  many were disappointed by the change promoted by India to “phase down,” rather than “phase out” coal power, which is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world


For Canada

There is an immediate need for the federal government to stop approving new fossil fuel projects beyond 2021. We know that oil and gas, and [oil and gas] emissions have increased 20 per cent since 2005. And it is estimated that oil and gas companies are expected to increase annual production by almost 30 per cent over the next 10 years,

The Canadian government should be actively retiring existing oil and gas projects, putting significant resources into a just transition for workers and communities. Fossil fuels are the source of the problem in terms of climate change, so moving away from them is the way to go.

At the end of the day our government needs to show more courage and admit the “need to phase out all new production of fossil fuels as soon as possible, including the billions of dollars that is spent on fossil fuel subsidies.”


The summit didn’t succeed in helping us avert the worst effects of climate change. We are still moving toward a planet that will be warmer by some 2.4 degrees Celsius by  2100. And that misses the target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees increase that is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of warming.

They have underestimated the pace of extreme, destabilizing climate change and need to act further and faster to limit near-term temperature increases.

“Still more of the same old broken climate promises?”

With the 44th parliament looking virtually identical to the previous one, what’s an environmentalist to think? The bad news is that Trudeau’s government has yet to meet any of its own emission reduction targets, and hoping for different results with the same party in power is likely insane.  The good news is that a majority of Canadians voted for parties with progressive climate platforms. The best hope for climate justice just might be the upcoming Global Climate strikes, large protests under the banner of Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture. The next one is set for September 24th. If the movement can regain its pre-pandemic momentum, and bring ongoing national attention to the climate crisis, perhaps there can be a seed of hope for promises to be kept. The tough part is, for substantive changes in Canada, the Liberals’ targets will need to be exceeded. Trudeau says all the right things, the time is now, though, to hold him to them