Webinar: COP21 – Climate Action & Implications for Canadian Businesses

Climate Action & Implications for Canadian Businesses

Article by Elisabeth Resch and Mairi MacEachern

COP 21 – Climate Action & Implications for Canadian Businesses

On January 26 2016 the Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) hosted an Interactive Session to discuss the outcomes of the recent COP21 negotiations in Paris and the way forward for Canadian businesses, organizations as well as Federal and Provincial governments in advancing climate action.

The webinar was moderated by GCNC President, Helle Bank Jorgensen, followed by four impressive speakers providing insights on COP21 and its implications for Canadian businesses and organizations:


§  Richard Kinley Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC)

§  Marlo Raynolds, ­­­­­Canada’s Chief of Staff for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna

§  Kate Rich, Executive Director, Climate Change Policy and Regulations, Government of Alberta

§  Hando Kang, Vice President of International Public Affairs, Skypower Global


Helle Bank Jorgensen started the session by introducing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their adoption in September 2015 by 193 countries at the United Nations means that businesses now have a globally accepted and practical definition of sustainable development. To raise awareness of the SDGs within the Canadian private sector the GCNC conducted a SDG Survey. The survey showed that Canadian businesses see climate related goals such as “Climate Action” (SDG13) and “Affordable and Clean Energy” (SDG7) as important issues to prioritize within Canada and for their business. Helle noted that this demonstrates the crucial role of business in advancing climate action. A detailed analysis of the very interesting SDG survey results can be found here.


With a background in the Canadian government and now acting as Deputy Executive Secretary of UNFCCC,Richard Kinley provided insights on the recent COP21 negotiations and the climate journey ahead. Richard stated that he UN Climate Conference in Paris was “the most successful COP ever”. However, Richard Kinley expressed concern regarding the fact that commitments currently made by countries are inadequate to achieve the goal of limiting the rise of global temperatures to below 2°C.   He added that on the positive side, we do possess the knowledge and resources to successfully tackle climate change. Richard concluded by urged that the problem can only be solved by “everyone -including business -working together.”


Marlo Raynolds focused his remarks on the engagement that the Canadian Federal government would like to see from the private sector. Marlo emphasized the chance to “turn challenge into opportunity” by aiming for clean growth and the development of clean technologies. He highlighted the need of further investment in clean energy and green infrastructure in order to meet the SDGs.  Marlo stressed the importance of collaboration between all sectors and the need of partnerships including Public Private Partnerships.


Emphasizing the role of provincial governments in tackling climate change Kate Rich spoke about the priorities of the Government of Alberta, and its strong commitment to transitioning to a low carbon economy. Alberta’s Climate Leadership plan expands carbon pricing to both businesses and citizens, as well as sets detailed targets and concrete plans to phase out coal and transition to renewables. Kate closed her remarks stressing the importance of collaboration between Federal and Provincial Governments for effective Climate Action in Canada.


The last speaker Hando Kang focused his remarks on the role of the private sector in meeting the COP21 outcomes. According to Hando, the private sector has made itself visible and ready to commit to climate related partnerships with the government. The policies and commitments made by the government show business that there is an opportunity to invest. Hando also stressed the importance of including SMEs on all levels. Governments can learn from the “on the ground” experiences from the private sector to advance Climate Action.  


After the panel many interesting questions were directed to the speakers, including via Twitter. In his answers, Richard Kinley spoke about the difficulties of holding corporations accountable for their commitments and innovative solutions giving the example of the NASCA portal. Further questions focused on the role of banks and the financial sector in addressing climate change. Speakers referred to growing trends of greening portfolios, allocating specific funds for green investments, market movements towards green bonds and further promising actions by financial institutions.


The lively engagement of the audience during this Interactive Session proved the high interest from Canadian businesses and organizations in taking on their role and responsibility of tackling climate change by multi-stakeholder approaches.


The GCNC will be scheduling further sessions to assist Canadian businesses in the advancement of climate action. Please contact the GCNC team with any further questions regarding this Interactive Session or to find out about further opportunities of engagement in advancing climate action in Canada and globally.