On Thursday, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault stated that Canada will not agree to add language calling for the elimination of all fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas, in the concluding agreement at this year’s United Nations climate summit in Egypt.
The United Nations summit in Scotland last year reached an agreement urging governments to eliminate coal-fired power facilities without emission-control equipment as quickly as possible. The first that a reduction in the use of fossil fuels was explicitly mentioned in a COP summit.
During the final two weeks of COP27 discussions, India pushed for the inclusion of oil and gas in that paragraph of this year’s final agreement.
As long as the language regarding coal is not watered down, the European Union has indicated its approval of the proposal. John Kerry, the U.S. envoy on climate change, stated that the U.S. would support the agreement as long as it applied exclusively to “unabated” oil and gas production.
However, such language was noticeably absent from the COP27 draft document that was made public on Thursday. As the two weeks of climate discussions come to a close on Friday, the final document is still being finalized.
While Canada did support the coal language last year, Minister Guilbeault has stated that this year Canada will not be open to including oil and gas in the accord.
During a one-on-one chat on Thursday with Climate Action Network Canada’s national policy Caroline Brouillette, Minister Steven Guilbeault said Canada’s priority is on regulations and policies that restrict greenhouse gas emissions, like regulations on how much methane oil and gas companies can release.
By implementing regulations that encourage energy conservation options like electric vehicles, clean power, and more energy-efficient buildings, it is also working to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
“Everything we do is challenged in the court,” he said. (Carbon) pricing was challenged, our plastic pollution regulations were challenged, our environmental impact assessment is being challenged — either by provinces or companies, or both. And if we’re not on very solid legal ground, we will lose in front of the tribunals and that doesn’t help anyone.” said Guilbeault.
According to Guilbeault, Canada has not faced any challenge to its plans to phase out coal, but it has faced criticism for most of its actions in the oil and gas industry.
“We have to be super careful in terms of what we do that what we do will hold in court,” he said. “Otherwise we’re wasting time, and precious time, to fight climate change.”