Skip to content

Trudeau earns “fossil of the day” award for his stand on “loss and damage” at COP 21 summit

Edmonton-based Council of Canadians organizer Diane Connors took part in yesterday’s “fossil of the day” award action in Paris.

The Canadian Press reports, “The Climate Action Network International awarded Canada a second place ‘fossil of the day’ award at the COP21 climate summit, citing the reluctance of Canadian negotiators to have compensation for weather destruction in poor countries included in the final Paris agreement.”

This relates to the “loss and damage” issue.

Grist explains that previous climate talks have focused on “mitigation, which means cutting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions by doing things like building up renewable energy capacity and halting deforestation; and adaptation, which means preparing for future climate changes by taking steps such as building better drainage systems to deal with higher seas and more severe storms and shifting to heartier crops that can withstand higher temperatures and lower rainfalls. But now developing countries are pushing for assistance [beyond mitigation and adaptation]: loss and damage. This refers to irreparable losses (loss of lives, species, or land taken over by rising seas) and recoverable damages (damaged buildings, roads, power lines) — basically, what happens when mitigation and adaptation fall short and climate disaster strikes. At this point, no matter how much we cut emissions or how much we prepare for coming changes, there will still be significant loss and damage from climate change.”

The Canadian Youth Delegation says, “Loss and damage must include compensation from wealthy countries to vulnerable countries for irreversible damages caused by climate change.”

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, “I think it’s very clear that the developed world couldn’t sign onto unlimited financial liability, that would be on our kids and grandkids, for the impacts of climate change on the developing world. …We need to be responsible… And that’s why Canada and the United States and a number of countries have been singled out in this situation.”

Grist highlights, “Developed countries have been reluctant to accept loss-and-damage provisions in the deal being hammered out in Paris, since the phrase and concept ‘loss and damage’ evoke legal liability. Rich countries adamantly do not want even the specter of admitting liability and compensation obligations for the effects of climate change. …Activists and developing countries aren’t insisting on legal liability, though. The loss-and-damage text proposed in the draft agreement says nothing about liability. …A reason loss and damage has emerged as such a big issue now is that past UN agreements have failed to keep climate change in check.”

The Canadian Youth Delegation more broadly has demanded that the Trudeau government “contribute to global climate justice efforts by paying for a large proportion of the mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage needed in the Global South.” In October 2015, the Climate Action Network stated that Canada’s “fair share” would be $4 billion a year. On Nov. 27, just before the COP 21 talks began in Paris, the Trudeau government promised $2.65 billion over the next five years to this fund. That amount translates to $300 million in 2016-17 and will peak at $800 million in 2020-21.

That’s well short of our fair share.

The Canadian Youth Delegation has also stated that limiting a global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius means reaching zero emissions by 2050. To support our petition with that demand, please click here. Connors and the Canadian Youth Delegation will try to present this petition to environment minister Catherine McKenna tomorrow (Friday Dec. 11).

Photo: Council of Canadians organizer Diane Connors at yesterday’s Fossil of the Day award action.