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Minister McKenna on Climate Change Adaptation

Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minster of the Environment and Climate Change, spoke to Mediaplanet about how Canada continues to lead the way towards global climate adaptation.

Mediaplanet: How does the Canadian government plan to continue leading the world towards greater climate change adaptation in 2019?

Hon. Catherine McKenna: Last October, we helped convene the Global Commission on Adaptation to elevate the political visibility of this issue. The Commission is led by Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates, and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank. That same year, in December, Canada played a leading role in the negotiation of the Paris Rulebook, the framework that gives countries the rules and transparency guidelines needed to meet Paris Agreement targets.

Our country is doing its part to help developing countries fight climate change and adapt to its impact and have committed $2.65 billion to support the poorest and most vulnerable populations impacted by climate change. Part of that funding will help protect over 20 million people in the world’s most vulnerable countries manage climate risks, adapt and build resilience to climate change’s impacts, and sustainably manage their natural resources.

In your experience, what do you believe is the biggest misconception when it comes to climate change in Canada?

That it’s not an urgent problem. We’ve had the science for decades and yet some Conservative politicians want to take us back to the decade of inaction under the previous government despite the fact that Canadians are feeling the effects of climate change every day. Extreme weather is affecting us from coast to coast to coast, from forest fires to floods, drought, extreme heatwaves, and our melting arctic. And Canadians are feeling the costs, too. The cost of property damages from climate change averaged $405 million per year between 1983 and 2008 but have risen dramatically to $1.8 billion a year since 2009. We’re the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last generation that can do anything about it.

“Climate change is our biggest challenge, but it’s also our biggest opportunity.”

Why is it so important to encourage growth in the clean tech sector?

I always say, “Climate change is our biggest challenge, but it’s also our biggest opportunity.” Canada has made historic investments in clean tech supporting our engineers and entrepreneurs, inventors, and investors. Canadian companies are already proving to be global leaders in clean tech, with 12 of our companies on the Global Cleantech 100 list this year.

Last year, we formed an Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance to make recommendations on how the financial sector can harness its resources to build the clean economy. Corporate Knights estimates that, by 2025, the annual revenue attributable to the sustainable finance opportunity for Canada’s financial sector could be between $27 billion and $110 billion but the transition to this new economy is not easy work. New policies will encourage private and public sectors to reinforce each other, unlocking private capital, and ensuring that Canada is competitive in the world’s future low-carbon economy.

What is the government’s plan for conservation in 2019?

Canada is one of five countries that hold a majority of the world’s remaining wilderness so we’re working to double the amount of protected nature across Canada’s lands and oceans. In fact, protecting our nature accounts for one-third of the climate change solution. In Budget 2018, we made an historic $1.3 billion investment in Canada’s ecosystems, landscapes, and biodiversity, including species at risk.

Nature is a fundamental part of Canadian identity and we are working hard to preserve and protect it for the generations to come.

We will also be hosting a Nature Champions Summit in Montréal, from April 24 to 25, 2019, to ramp up global action to protect nature.

The Summit will bring together major philanthropists, business leaders, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, Indigenous leaders and environment ministers from around the world to build a high-ambition coalition and drive global nature protection forward.

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