By Tess van Straaten
November 30, 2015
Publication source: CHEK News
World leaders from almost 150 nations gathered in Paris on Monday, for the start of a historic United Nations climate conference.
Close to 200 countries are taking part in total, hoping to hammer out a global deal on reducing carbon emissions.
It’s the first time so many leaders have been under one roof and the entire world is watching.
“Never have the stakes been so high at an international meeting,” says French president Francois Hollande. “We’re talking about the future of the planet, the future of life.”
Negotiators from 195 countries will try to reach a deal in the next two weeks — no easy feat.
“As the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second largest emitter, the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” says U.S. president Barack Obama.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau also addressed the dignitaries gathered, making it clear Canada’s on-board.
“We view climate change not just as the challenge it is but also as a historic opportunity,” says Trudeau. “An opportunity to build a sustainable economy based on clean technology.”
“I think his was the only speech where you couldn’t hear the last few words because he was interrupted by applause from delegations from around world who were just happy to hear the words Canada wants to help!” says Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who’s also attending the conference.
May says it’s no secret Canada’s had a bad rap on the world stage in the last decade when it comes to the environment.
Despite the poor national reputation under the Harper government, B.C. is seen as a leader thanks to its comprehensive carbon tax and Vancouver Island is leading the way in green energy alternatives.
Cape Scott, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, is home to a massive wind farm and on the South Island, the T’Sou-ke First Nation has the biggest solar project of its kind, per capita, in the world.
“We did it for our children, we did it for our children 100 years from now,” says T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes.
Nearby Colwood is considered one of the greenest cities in the country, thanks to the $4 million Solar Colwood initiative.
“Vancouver Island has been in the lead in a lot of ways and I think we can once again provide really good leadership for rest of Canada,” May predicts.
In Paris for the duration of the UN climate conference, May says she’s very hopeful a historic deal will be reached.
“There wasn’t a single wold leaders who questioned that climate change is a serious issue and demands our urgent attention.”