Delphi Debrief: Climate Summit of the Americas

In the latest show of climate action mobilization, the Ontario Government hosted the Climate Summit of the Americas last week in Toronto. The event brought together over 300 leaders from government, businesses and civil society, with many more participating in events on the margins. Big-name attendees included former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, California Governor Jerry Brown, former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, along with representatives from 22 other states and regions in the Americas.

The goals of the Summit were sufficiently high-level that they were ostensibly achieved—subnational governments reaffirmed commitments to reduce GHG emissions, and the event provided a forum for advancing carbon pricing,  market mechanisms and collaboration amongst jurisdictions. The Summit was also an important Canadian stop on the road to Paris UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations at the end of the year.

Takeaway #1: Less talk, more action

With the recent announcement that it will pursue cap and trade, Ontario has become the latest subnational jurisdiction to commit to addressing climate change through carbon pricing. While this leadership is commendable, the Summit highlighted what is becoming a persistent challenge: commitments are made, disparate regulations and policies are emerging, and technological solutions are known, yet the rate of change and scale of action is hindered by the disconnections that exist between jurisdictions.

However, as more and more avenues for action truly emerge outside of the formal UN negotiating process there may be a critical mass forming that will overcome these disconnections.  Additionally, it is increasingly clear that reaching the scale of action required will mean using “all of the tools in the toolbox” and bringing everyone (jurisdictions, sectors, segments of society, stakeholders) on board in some way, shape or form.

Takeaway #2: We can learn from and build on experiences in other regions

Delphi participated in a number of events during the course of the Summit, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) Climate Dialogues. Delphi is a member of IETA, a nonprofit business organization comprised of more than 150 international companies that supports the establishment of a functional international framework for carbon pricing and markets. IETA events over the course of the Summit brought together stakeholders to discuss a range of timely issues, including climate finance, cap and trade program design considerations and key lessons learned from other jurisdictions (particularly Quebec and California).

A key message for Ontario is that there is a great deal of experience and expertise that can be drawn on in developing their cap and trade system – there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Takeaway #3: There are plenty of opportunities to engage and take action on climate

Delphi also had the opportunity to participate in two events that aimed to engage and galvanize people and governments to action:

  1. The Ontario Climate Change Lab, hosted by the Clean Economy Alliance — a group of nearly 80 organizations representing a broad cross-section of Ontarians united in support of the province’s recent commitment to put a price on carbon. The event included a series of facilitated workshops on topics including energy-efficient buildings, low-carbon electricity, and clean-tech innovation. Each workshop produced key insights and recommendations for Ontario’s climate change strategy and will be presented to government. More information on the Ontario Climate Change Lab can be found here.
  2. The Climate Reality Leadership Corp training program on the margins of the Climate Summit. The two-day training session was led by Chairman of the Climate Reality Project Al Gore, and included 590 participants. The program provides training in climate science, communications, and how to tell the story of climate change and inspire communities everywhere to take action. The goal of the Leadership Corp is to “establish a dynamic group of world-changers shaping the conversation on climate in forums from family dinners to international summits.” To find out about the next Climate Reality Leader Training see here.

The events of the past week have shown that a flurry of activity is happening – ideally building towards the critical mass of action needed to effectively tackle climate change and establish a low- carbon development trajectory in Ontario and beyond.

Written by: Jessica Butts, Consultant – Policy Lead (jbutts@delphi.ca)

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The Delphi Group can help you navigate the complex world of climate policy in Ontario so that you are better prepared for what’s ahead. See our services overview here  or contact Jessica Butts for more information.

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