Signs of change: Day One at the COP16 climate talks in Cancun, Mexico

The second thing I saw before we reached the outer perimiter of the airport property was a Monarch butterfly. It brought me back immediately to my childhood tape deck, playing a David Suzuki sing-along on Monarch butterflies.

(c) Fredy Mercay/WWF
With an icon of a solution to climate change, and an icon of biodiversity, Day One in Mexico was symbolic of our work as a whole. We ultimately attend these international negotiations on climate change out of our interest to protect biodiversity by implementing solutions to climate change.
As we head into these negotiations, the stand point of the Canadian government is clear, as we saw the country’s only climate change bill (Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act) fail in the Senate just last week. The headlines this week have shown that Canada is starting to more deeply think about how we, as a country, move forward with the United States – given that our economies are so closely linked.
That said, Canada steps into these global talks with an ultimate responsibility to act. As we are among the top 10 global emitters, we owe it to the world to act on climate change. Overall, what we want to see is Canada playing a constructive role in these negotiations, and increasing its level of ambition. This is the 16th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) – and each year, each conference, is increasingly important, as global emissions should be peaking in the next five years if we are to avoid the worst projected climate change.
Canada has, unfortunately, garnered itself a tarnished reputation here amidst the United Nations hallways. Where the Canadian flag is usually a symbol of pride for many, here it is very much less so. However, WWF is here to work with those who are committed to moving forward solutions as quickly and meaningfully as possible. And hopefully, that includes the leaders of not only our federal, but also our provincial governments.
The talks began just moments ago, and while electric cars and Monarch butterflies have already amazed me here in Mexico, Canada’s leadership still needs to do so.