When the COP 21 (the 21st session of the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC) started this fall in Paris, I had little hope we would accomplish anything. In all honesty I spent more time thinking about what would happen if the world couldn’t agree on something concrete in Paris. However, the international community realised it was no longer possible to postpone or ignore the issue. We needed to act now, and to my great relief we did through the last minute adoption of the Paris Agreement and the accompanying COP 21 Decision. It is of course not the best agreement, and on its own it is clearly not enough to stop catastrophic climate change. But it is a first step that binds the international community, and a much needed signal that we need to take climate change seriously. In this post I will first briefly summarize what the Paris Agreement entails. I will then offer some thoughts on what the Agreement means for Canada.
It has been a while since I wanted to write this post. As work and graduate applications kept my mind away from this blog, the situation that inspired this post evolved, evolved further, ended and restarted. In the end, I’m glad I waited as the developments made this topic much more interesting. That topic is the involvement of Canada in the Durban Conference negotiations and its Canadian climax: the repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol.
After what can be considered many failed attempts to agree on the next step to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (basically the replacement of Kyoto after its end), the State Parties to the UNFCCC met in Durban, South Africa, at the 17th conference of the parties (COP17), hoping that some agreement could be reached over the pressing issue of climate change. The Copenhagen Conference resulted in what many considered a sad failure. However, it seemed that the international community had matured sufficiently to reach something concrete in Durban. Sadly, that statement does not apply to Canada, who seems to have regressed in it international maturity level since 2006.
On the 15th of November, I had the chance of assisting to a viewing of the Canadian documentary “Prosecutor” with the said Prosecutor (Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (the ICC)) at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. The documentary was interesting to watch; it outlined the determination and perseverance of Mr. Moreno-Ocampo and the inherent difficulties of being the chief prosecutor of an international court. I recommend it if you are interested in the ICC and international criminal justice.
What was even more interesting was the discussion that followed. One of the students in the audience asked what would be the Prosecutor’s next career move (Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s mandate is ending soon). He mentioned that he was very interested in educating the international relations crowd about the rule of law and international ethic. I found his answer particularly interesting because the notion of international ethic is something that has wondered inside my central nervous system for a while.