Achieving a more sustainable future for generations to come requires tackling climate change, improving the health of the world’s oceans and transforming the way we produce, transport and use energy. The interconnected world that we live in requires us to work with international partners to develop truly global solutions. That is why our environmental priorities for the G7 this year focus on acting on climate change, securing innovative and sustainable finance, building coastal resilience and stopping the flow of plastics to the oceans.
Climate change is the greatest global challenge of our time. Today, it affects our coastal communities through rising seas, extreme weather events and coastal erosion. In Canada’s Arctic, these impacts are magnified, as the area is warming at three times the rate of the rest of the country. An important priority for our G7 presidency is building resilient coastal communities in the face of extreme impacts from climate change. Key actions for building this resilience include advancing climate risk insurance, supporting the role of women in climate and disaster risk management, and working with small island developing states to better plan and reconstruct.
We are also standing with G7 members to combat climate change and take concrete actions to reduce emissions, transition to a low-carbon economy and protect the environment we share.
Plastics in the oceans
Plastic waste and marine litter pose an increasingly serious threat to our oceans and marine life. As the impacts of marine pollution increase, we have an even greater responsibility to act now to protect the oceans and waterways for future generations. Throughout our G7 presidency, we will show leadership in advancing action in Canada and across the globe to prevent marine litter from polluting our oceans. One of these actions includes a zero plastics waste charter that we are promoting through the G7 presidency.
Globally, less than 10% of all plastics are recycled and kept in the economy, so more energy is used and additional greenhouse gas emissions enter the atmosphere to create new plastics. By not reusing and recycling plastic, we are throwing away an estimated $120 billion in value every year and causing around US$8 billion in environmental damage at the same time. To take action on this issue, Canada is developing a domestic approach with provincial and territorial governments, industry, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders and all Canadians to keep plastics within the economy and out of landfills and the environment. We are looking at this issue over the course of the entire lifespan of plastics – from the way we design the plastic itself, through the production process, to waste-management solutions.
We know that solutions do not lie in government alone. Hand in hand with governments at all levels around the world, with industry, with Indigenous peoples, with civil society and so many other stakeholders, we can truly be the change.
Our government has been actively engaging our partners to inform the priorities for Canada’s G7 presidency, especially with young people – those with the greatest stake in the future of our planet. I have engaged with youth on sustainability and climate action through my Climate Campus University Tour, and I look forward to engaging in a discussion with all G7 environment and energy ministers and the youth winners of the G7 Oceans Youth Innovation Challenge to hear their solutions for promoting global ocean health. I have also heard numerous recommendations from sustainability leaders, businesses, investors and entrepreneurs at the G7 Clean Innovation Business Summit to discuss the role G7 collaboration can play in generating concrete clean innovation opportunities and creating a more favourable investment environment.
By working together domestically, internationally and with civil society, we will arrive at more comprehensive solutions for the issues that we will discuss. I look forward to moving the dialogue towards the implementation of our G7 commitments, from Charlevoix to our fall meeting of environment and energy ministers.
The disproportionate effect on women
Canada has also appointed the Gender Equality Advisory Council of experts and advocates from around the world for the G7. The council is ensuring that gender equality and women’s empowerment are integrated across all themes, activities and initiatives. In the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities, women and girls are particularly at risk when it comes to climate change. When resources become more unpredictable and scarce during extreme weather events, women and girls spend more time and effort attending to basic needs such as growing food and collecting water and fuel. Supporting the leadership of women and girls is critical to achieve meaningful results to tackle climate action, mitigation, and disaster reduction and adaptation; to combat climate change, move to clean energy, and protect our oceans. The economy is stronger, and the environment is better protected, when women are fully engaged in solutions to chart the path forward.
In May, I hosted a summit of women climate leaders to help accelerate global momentum for climate action, where the role of women as powerful agents of change on climate change issues was on full display. I am constantly in awe of the amazing power and passion of women who are leading change around the globe. And I look forward to a lasting legacy for continued dialogue on gender equality in the G7 in the years to come.
Canada and its G7 partners recognise the urgent need to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable and resilient future. In 2018, the G7 is poised to play a pivotal role in advancing the global trajectory on climate change and to taking concrete steps on the important issue of ocean health and plastics. It is a true privilege to be able to play a leadership role during this important time in history.