Sunday night in Paris, leaders and negotiators from around the world locked themselves in a room to talk about climate change and environmental initiatives, and Canada’s commitments are making headlines this week. 

Trudeau’s government is seeing what the UN Climate Change Summit was asking for … and raising it some. Our target for cutting greenhouse gases strives for more than the bare minimum. Canada’s new Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna, announced on Sunday that  she wants to “restrict planetary warming to just 1.5 Celsius —not two degrees.”

0.5 degrees mightn’t sound like much, but as McKenna said, it would prevent “a lot of irreparable, irreversible damage to large parts of the world. If we want to have a reasonable prospect of not having the Greenland ice sheet create five- to eight-metre sea level rise, it’s what’s required.”

The goal is a sustainable transition to this target, and there was much talk of the issue of climate change being a human rights issue. We are entitled to a safe, clean planet. McKenna’s five-year review will be “ambitious and accountable” and she wants an agreement, noting her 1.5 Celsius limit, to be signed by as many countries as possible.

She went on to urge that every country should be legally bound to their commitments, and this would include progress reports on their targets “on a regular basis.”

Trudeau has vowed that climate change will be a “top priority” for Canada, and stated that “we will listen to, and act on scientific advice,” and all those scientists Harper muzzled are nuzzling up to Trudeau with a barrage of happy press releases this week.

Time will tell if the world’s other nations agree to our urging to cap global warming at 1.5 C. But for the first time in a decade, we can feel like we’re doing our part here in Canada. To quote Trudeau, ““Canada is back, my good friends. We’re here to help to build an agreement that will do our children and grandchildren proud.”