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Toward Low Carbon Societies : Canada and the European Union are getting ready for the Paris climate conference

Conference organized by CÉRIUM and EUCE in partnership with EDDEC Institute - Environment, Sustainable Development and Circular Economy

Paris will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December 2015. Expectations and challenges run high: 196 countries will seek to reach a binding international agreement aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to limit the global temperature increase to + 2 °C.

Countries agreed to outline – prior to the Paris Conference – what actions they intend to take under a global agreement. These intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) represent the commitments each country considers being capable of implementing. They should transparently report how carbon emissions can be reduced, how energy-intensive sectors can be transformed and how transitions can be equitable. Moreover, INDCs should help to create a climate of trust for the different societal stakeholders – private and public sectors as well as citizens. If we wish to move towards low carbon societies, these INDCs need to be substantial.

Ahead of the COP21 we aim to take stock of climate policies in focusing on Canada and the European Union. The one-day conference is divided in two sessions: the first addresses the energy transition from the perspective of climate policies; the latter focuses on the market as an instrument to reduce carbon emissions. Comparing Canadian and European approaches will make it possible to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Free entrance but registration compulsory at

Download the detailed programme (PDF)

8:00 | Opening Session

  • Welcome of participants

  • Opening remarks

    Maya Jegen, Professor of political science, Université du Québec à Montréal, Member of the European Union Center of Excellence.

    Hugo Séguin, Lecturer, École de politique appliquée de l’Université de Sherbrooke, Fellow at CÉRIUM.

  • Keynote: Towards an international agreement on climate in Paris

    Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador of France in Canada.

9:00 | Panel 1 : Climate policies: how to create coherence and ambition within decentralized structures?

Decentralization characterizes climate governance in Canada and the European Union. Even if both have important prerogatives in terms of climate policy, the levers of action in terms of reducing carbon emissions such as country planning, transportation, industrial policy, natural resources and energy policy are mainly the jurisdiction of the member states and the provinces. How do the European Union and Canada prepare for the Paris Conference in this setting of multilevel governance? What are their commitments? Are there any consultation mechanisms between supranational and national, respectively between national and subnational levels? How can the European Union and Canada ensure the compliance with their commitments?

  • Speakers

    Oliver Geden, Head of research EU/Europe, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (German Institute for International and Security Affairs), Berlin.

    Scott Vaughan, President and Chief executive officer, International Institute for Sustainable Development.

  • Commentator

    John Drexhage, Senior advisor, Coop Carbone

14:00 | Panel 2 : Carbon markets 2.0: from fragmented markets to a global market?

Carbon markets are often promoted as economically and environmentally efficient and flexible instruments to reduce carbon emissions. The EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), launched in 2005, is the first and biggest international carbon market covering almost half of EU’s emissions. Critics point out that allowances are issued too freely, which leads to the collapse of the carbon price and removes the incentive of the instrument. In North America the Western Climate Initiative gives rise to the establishment of a carbon cap-and-trade system. California and Quebec are innovative in terms of including the transport sector in the carbon market. This session will address the following questions: what are the current challenges of these two carbon markets? Will they endure and contribute effectively to reduce carbon emissions? Can they coexist or should they be integrated in a single global market? Are they compatible with other instruments such as carbon taxes? how can free riding be prevented and other jurisdiction be encouraged to join carbon pricing initiatives?

  • Speakers

    Jean-Yves Benoît, Director, Carbon market, Government of Québec.

    Andrei Marcu, Senior Advisor, Head of the CEPS Carbon Market Forum, Deputy Director of the Energy Climate House.

  • Commentator

    Paul Lanoie, Commissioner, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, Professor, HEC Montréal.

16:30 | Concluding remarks

This conference is part of the event Les sociétés industrialisées au changement climatique : le Canada et l’Europe vers Paris 2015. It includes a public panel with the federal electoral parties on September 17.

Emplacement : Maison du développement durable, 50 Sainte-Catherine West, Montreal H2X 3V4