United Nations Climate Change Conference
On December 7-18, 2009 Copenhagen was host to a conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as COP15 Copenhagen. The UNFCCC is an international treaty produced at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 that encourages industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Conferences of the parties to that treaty have been held annually since 1995. At COP3 in 1997 held in Kyoto Japan, the Kyoto Protocol was developed. The agreement set legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries. Targets varied according to country, but averaged five per cent over the period from 2008 to 2012. Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified it in 2002. The United States has not ratified the protocol.
Some believe Canadaís Kyoto Protocol targets (GHG emissions reductions by six percent below their 1990 levels by 2012) arenít achievable or realistic. Canada faces challenges due to its energy resource-based economy, its cold climate and its geography. Others feel trying to achieve these targets would be expensive and potentially damaging to the Canadian economy. A major criticism is that targets are mandatory for industrialized nations, but not for developing countries. And without the United States, the protocol canít realistically address climate change.
Originally, it was hoped that COP15 would result in a new global climate treaty, but differences between industrialized nations and developing countries on how to combat climate change may preclude such an outcome. While the conference may not result in a new treaty all can live with, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCClC, hopes the conference will at least find agreement on what he calls the Four Essentials:
- How much are the industrialized countries willing to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases?
- How much are major developing countries such as China and India willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions?
- How is the help needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change going to be financed?
- How is that money going to be managed?
The Centre for Energy has published a COP15 briefing document called Canadian Leadership in Energy. (3.4MB PDF) This information will help you learn about the unique characteristics of Canadaís energy production and consumption and how Canada ranks on the world stage with other major global energy players. The document also includes information on the value of Canadaís energy exports, our energy relationship with the Untied States and Canadaís CO2 emissions.
We have also summarized key energy facts for Canada, domestically and globally as well as for each province and territory to help you learn about Canada’s contribution to world energy and the Canadian economy.