COP27 concluded on Monday, November 21 in Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt. The Centre québécois du droit de l’environnement, represented by Sylvain Gaudreault, a member of the board of directors, had the opportunity to monitor with great attention the progress and conclusions of these international negotiations. Our assessment of the last two weeks is that necessary but insufficient progress has been made and that an industrial lobby has wielded excessive clout. 

 The climate justice COP

Alongside numerous partners, the CQDE wanted Quebec to play an active role on the issue of climate justice. In this regard, the CQDE insisted throughout the negotiations that the Quebec Minister of the Environment exercise positive leadership, given the regrettable absence of the Premier from the summit. 

Good news: the subject is well established on the political agenda and negotiations have led to the historical creation of a loss and damage fund to address harms generated by the climate crisis.

What is the loss and damage fund?

The objective of this fund is to encourage the Global North, the main culprit of the climate crisis, to assume its responsibilities. As the Global South has been forced to disproportionately suffer the consequences of climate change, the Global North owes its Southern counterparts a “climate debt.” Recognizing the urgency of deploying new financial means to support these countries, as Canada did very early in the negotiations, is a step forward. However, we are paying close attention to the amounts allocated to the fund, which have not yet been determined, and which will have to be substantial enough to ensure real support for vulnerable communities and countries already affected by the climate crisis.

Present at the COP, absent from the texts: fossil fuels

As we asserted with sadness and regret when we co-signed this open letter on the presence of oil, gas, and petrochemical companies at the official Canadian pavilion at the invitation of the federal government, the industries that are fuelling the climate crisis and hindering the implementation of real solutions should first set an example through their actions before trying to position themselves publicly as a solution to environmental crises. 

In addition to providing an official platform for fossil fuel sector companies within the framework of this summit, Canada was among the last countries to support the inclusion of stronger language on fossil fuels as one of the causes of the climate crisis in the text. The CQDE strongly condemns this position and urges Canada to act in line with its international and domestic obligations, including by not supporting greenwashing in any way and by terminating federal subsidies to the fossil fuel sector. Quebec, which has passed legislation to end petroleum exploration and production in 2022, can and must play a leadership role in this regard, particularly within the framework of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance.

Now… onwards to COP15! 

The text of the decision does not mention the Biodiversity Conference (COP15) which will be held in Montreal this December and which aims to establish an ambitious program for the protection of nature for the next decade. However, the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are intimately linked, and one cannot be resolved without the other. In December, at COP15, both the federal and provincial governments will have an opportunity to take strong action to protect our land and biodiversity. We will be on hand! 

Before this major event, we invite you to a free conference, entitled “Protéger la biodiversité par le droit” (protecting biodiversity through law) presented by our team and our law clinic, to better understand existing legal tools and the importance of demands for enhanced biodiversity protection.

“It was an honour to represent CQDE at COP27. Climate justice being at the heart of the discussions in Sharm el-Sheikh and the CQDE’s expertise in this area being recognized in Quebec, I was able to contribute, along with other groups in attendance, to influencing decision-makers so that climate justice is concretely enacted in Quebec, in the rest of Canada, and in the Paris Agreement. In this sense, the agreement on the creation of a loss and damage fund is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done between now and COP28. The CQDE will continue to campaign for Quebec and the rest of Canada to assert even stronger leadership in this area” – Sylvain Gaudreault, member of the board of directors of the CQDE.