COP26: Justin Trudeau remembers village that burned to the ground
Earlier this year, wildfires stoked by record-breaking temperatures, tore across the North-west of the North American continent decimating everything their path – including the small town of Lytton in British Columbia.
The Canadian prime minister invoked the town as he urged world leaders at the gathering of world leaders in Glasgow to tackle the mammoth task of halting the destructive impact of global warming.
“In Canada, there was a town called Lytton,” Trudeau told world leaders sombrely.
“I say was – because on June 30th, it burned to the ground.
“The day before the temperature had hit 49.6C, the hottest ever recorded in our country.”
Wildfires, fuelled by the unprecedented heatwave, destroyed around 90% of the structures in Lytton and killed two people.
And, more broadly, it is estimated the heatwave killed over 500 people in British Columbia alone – with its neighbour, the United States, recording over 200 deaths related to the blazes on the continent.
The fires were part of a weather event described by meteorologists as “a heat dome”.
Oxford University’s Dr Friederike Otto said at the time that such heatwaves would be near impossible if it were not for climate change.
“Without the additional greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in the statistics that we have available with our models, and also the statistical models based on observations, such an event just does not occur,” she said.
“Or if an event like this occurs, it occurs once in a million times, which is the statistical equivalent of never.”
Trudeau told the world that Canada was suffering uniquely as a result of soaring temperatures.
“Canada is warming on average twice as quickly as the rest of the world, and in our north three times quicker,” he said.
“The science is clear: we must do more and faster.
“So that’s the pledge, and the call, I bring to this historic meeting.”
Canada ranks seventh in the world for carbon emissions, and its temperature has increased by 1.7C since 1948.
Among ideas suggested to tackle global warming, Trudeau said that putting a price on pollution is key to pushing down global emissions.
“Just as globally we’ve agreed to a minimum corporate tax, we must work together to ensure it is no longer free to pollute anywhere in the world,” he said.
“That means establishing a shared minimum standard for pricing pollution.”
He added: “We know pollution pricing is key to getting emissions down while getting innovation up and running.”
Getting emissions down is a key goal of the climate summit, which has widely been dubbed the last opportunity to save the planet.
Boris Johnson told COP26 the “Doomsday Device is real” and is at one minute to midnight today, and likened the climate crisis to James Bond attempting to diffuse a bomb strapped to himself – but lamented that this was real life instead of a film.
In 2015, world leaders pledged to hit net-zero by the middle of the century, as well as keeping global warming below 2C with a target of 1.5C in the Paris Agreement.
However, with the leaders of China and Russia failing to attend in person, and the prime minister of India – one of the fastest growing economies in the world – today stating his country will hit net zero 20 years late by 2070, the success of the summit is already in question.
Watch: Wildfire Burns in Lytton, British Columbia, Amid Historic Heat Wave