Manitoba has joined Ontario and Quebec in a carbon market that will allow cross-border trading of emission credits among provinces and U.S. states as premiers acknowledge that greater efforts are required to avert the worst impacts of global warming.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger signed an agreement Monday with Ontario's Kathleen Wynne and Quebec's Philippe Couillard on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit where 195 countries are looking to forge a climate-change deal.
Meeting at the sprawling conference centre at an airport north of Paris, the premiers touted provincial leadership on climate issues in Canada, and the growing number of states, provinces and regions around the world that are committing to aggressive emission-reduction targets and international mechanisms to track their progress.
Manitoba will be a small player in the carbon market, which now includes California, Quebec and Ontario and may soon add states like Oregon and Washington.
"We are eager to create this new market and use that tool to allow us to move forward to find the most efficient and effective ways to make a difference on climate change," Mr. Selinger said.
The stakes are mounting for all jurisdictions as negotiators look for ways to accommodate the concern of many island and developing countries that the existing climate target is woefully inadequate. Leaders from those nations warn they would be submerged by rising seas unless the world can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, rather than the commonly accept target of 2 degrees.
At a negotiating session Monday, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna endorsed the call from island nations that the Paris text should include "the recognition of the need to strive to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees." However, federal officials said Canada continues to accept the 2-degree target as the current basis for action.
On Monday, Ms. McKenna announced Canada will provide $150-million for renewable energy development in Africa, part of a $2.65-billion aid package unveiled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prior to the opening of the summit last week.
Still, a number of countries are pressing for strong language in the accords that would mark a clear determination to achieve the greater ambition.
"The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 is choosing to sacrifice or not to sacrifice hundreds of millions of people all over the world," said Antonio La Lina, spokesman for the Philippine delegation, said in an interview. The Philippines – which has been ravaged by powerful typhoons in recent years – is one of the most vocal proponents of a 1.5-degree target.
U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern said the 2-degree goal "isn't going to change," but he added the text could include "some formulation that would include a reference to 1.5 degrees."
Canada would face a much tougher task if it based its national climate strategy on a 1.5-degree global target rather than a 2-degree one. Pressure would ratchet up on Alberta's oil-sands producers, whose greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise for several years even under the provincial NDP government's recently announced climate plan.
"If we have declared for 1.5, then that means we obviously have to adjust our own expectations for Canada," said David Runnalls, senior fellow with the Waterloo, Ont.-based Centre for International Governance Innovation and a veteran of UN climate summits.
Current Canadian commitments are thought to be insufficient to meet a goal set by the previous Harper government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 by 2030, a target that environmental groups slammed as too weak.
In an interview, Ontario's Premier Wynne acknowledged that all governments will need to do more to enable Canada to do its share in the global effort to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Ms. Wynne said she understood the desire to limit warming to 1.5-degrees but fears it is unattainable.
"Everyone wants a target that we can reach," Ms. Wynne said. "We want to find a balance between ambitious and reachable."
With a report from Eric Reguly in Paris