British envoy seeks Canadian help on climate change at UN talks in Glasgow

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The new British envoy to Ottawa said Canada still had credibility as a reliable partner in the fight against climate change despite a national increase in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years.

Susannah Goshko, the new British High Commissioner to Canada, says the current Trudeau government has shown “enormous leadership” on the international stage in the fight against climate change.

That’s because Canada has doubled its financial commitments to climate finance and raised its emission reduction targets, putting pressure on other countries, Goshko said.

Goshko offered the assessment in a broad interview as the UK prepares to host what is seen as a pivotal UN climate talks in Scotland next month, known as COP26.

British and UN flags fly in Parliament Square in London on Sunday ahead of the UN climate conference COP26 to be held in Glasgow next week. (Alberto Pezzali / AP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been criticized by his political opponents and by environmental groups in the recent federal election because Canada’s carbon emissions actually increased from 2015 to 2019, the most recent years for which data is available. .

While new liberal policies may have reduced emissions over the next two years, current data has fueled the narrative that Canada’s reputation for fighting climate change has waned since Trudeau’s participation in 2015. to the Paris climate agreement in the weeks following his accession to power.

This is not the case, from Britain’s point of view, Goshko said.

“I think there’s no question that it’s hard to do what needs to be done to meet our climate goals. A transition to a net zero economy is really, really tricky. And I think the important thing, in as far as Canada is concerned, the commitment is there, ”she said.

Canada has shown “tremendous leadership”, says Goshko

Net zero is the term that means that no new emissions would be added to Earth’s atmosphere, with nature or technology capturing all that are produced.

Canada has committed this year to achieving net zero by 2050 and has also raised its emissions reduction targets by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, to 40-45%.

  • Do you have questions about COP26 or climate science, politics or policy? Send an email to [email protected]

These new commitments, along with Canada’s partnership with Germany to help provide US $ 100 billion in funding to the poorest countries to help them fight climate change, mean that “Canada has shown leadership. tremendous leadership, ”Goshko said.

“This is the kind of leadership we need because we need all countries now to truly commit to these commitments if we are to make the COP a success.”

Goshko said it was crucial for China, as the world’s largest emitter, to play a role in COP26, but his government is still awaiting whether President Xi Jinping will join the estimated 120 world leaders to participate in the the opening of the meeting in early November.

Despite China’s voracious appetite for energy, including the charcoal variety, Goshko said it is also the world’s largest investor in renewable energy, making it a valuable partner in the fight against climate change.

Goshko has been at the forefront of Britain and Canada’s intense engagement with China in recent years. She was for two years the principal private secretary to the recently deceased British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

She witnessed the personal friendship Raab and his former Canadian counterpart, François-Philippe Champagne, forged in face-to-face meetings in London before and after the start of the pandemic. Raab was excited to pursue a deeper alliance with Canada, especially given Britain’s departure from the European Union, Goshko said.

LISTEN | Two climate experts on Canada’s climate challenges at COP26

8:47Canada’s climate issues

Peter Erickson of the Stockholm Environment Institute explains why Canada’s oil and gas production is at odds with its climate goals, and climatologist and UBC professor Simon Donner explains what Canada needs to do to meet those goals. 8:47

This was manifested by supporting Canada in the fight against China’s imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, which only ended in September after nearly three years. Raab was one of the early supporters of Canada’s international effort to create a declaration against arbitrary detention by states, she said.

And Canada has enthusiastically participated in international efforts to criticize China for human rights abuses in Hong Kong and to impose sanctions for abuses committed in its Xinjiang province against Muslim Uyghurs, he said. she said, undeterred by the fact that China was detaining two of its nationals in apparent retaliation. for the arrest of Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou under a US extradition warrant.

“I can’t think of a time when we came to Canada and said, ‘We would like to do something about this,’ and the answer was no, ‘Goshko said.

AUKUS does not replace Five Eyes

Goshko also played down any suggestion that Britain snubbed Canada by forming a new alliance, known as AUKUS, with Australia and the United States. The alliance is designed to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear submarines to deal with China’s growing regional influence.

France was furious at the move, but Trudeau ignored it, saying Canada was not interested in nuclear submarines.

Britain’s military and security cooperation with Canada remains strong in other areas, including its collaborations through NATO in Eastern Europe as a counterweight to Russia, and a recent agreement to deepen cooperation in the Arctic, she said.

Goshko said Britain’s alliance with Canada in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network (along with Australia, the United States and New Zealand) remains a top priority that does not conflict in any way with AUKUS. All members of the Five Eyes are continually working to build their capacities.

“I do not see AUKUS in any way intentionally in conflict with the Five Eyes,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to us that one comes at the expense of the other.”

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