Elimination of all emissions would make for COP28 success: PAGC senator

Kimiya Shokoohi

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Environmentalists want Canadian government representatives at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai to eliminate all forms of emissions.

“Make polluters pay” was a resounding demand by Greenpeace activists to federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Stephen Guilbeault in Montreal before the summit opened last week.

Prince Albert Grand Council Senator Peter Beatty said the situation may worsen if left unresolved. He said a commitment by government to a full elimination of emissions — a 100 per cent reduction of all carbon gasses — is required.

“If they can achieve that target (COP28) would be a success,” Beatty said in an interview.

Forest fires and other extreme weather events are a tell-tale sign of the need for climate remediation, say climate change activists pushing for meaningful changes from Canadian leaders at the summit.

Activists in Montreal projected images of forest fires alongside a fire truck outside Guibeault’s office as a reminder of the summer’s devastating wildfire season fuelled by climate change, just as COP28 got underway.

In Saskatchewan, other concerns include water pollution in the Saskatchewan River Delta, disruptions to river flow caused by hold and release cycles at the E.B. Campbell hydroelectric station, deforestation for agriculture and increased emissions from forest fires.

“We’re getting more forest fires that burn hotter and a lot more damage to our forests,” said Beatty, who hails from Descharme Lake.

“The huge forest fires we’ve seen across Canada and the (carbon dioxide) that has been emitted into the air (from them), it’s probably triple what you would get from the industrial part of CO2 emissions.”

At COP28, Greenpeace is demanding the Canadian government commit to a full, fast and fair fossil fuel phaseout and introduce a climate damage tax on the Canadian fossil fuel industry to supply the UN Loss and Damage fund to ensure communities most affected by the climate crisis receive essential aid.

“The record wildfires of this past summer in Canada gave us a grim experience of the devastation that so many others in the world are already facing. All this while the fossil fuel industry is cashing in record profit at everyone’s expense,” said Salome Sane, climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, in a press release.

In order to meet the 1.5 C warming limit in the 2015 Paris Agreement, Greenpeace says COP28 must reach a steadfast commitment to a fair and rapid phaseout of all fossil fuels. “It’s time for the Canadian government to stop enabling the fossil fuel industry to generate vast wealth, and make them pay to address the loss and damage their products cause,” Salome said.