Transport Minister Omar Alghabra speaks while Ottawa South MP David McGuinty looks on during a press conference at the Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai

Zero emission cars, shipping routes latest Canadian promises at COP26 climate talks

OTTAWA — Canada is among 19 countries promising to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions from some international shipping routes at the COP26 climate talks in Scotland today.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra also signed Canada on to a zero-emission car accord, an international aviation emissions promise and an agreement to make heavy trucks and buses emission-free in less than two decades.

They are the latest in a long list of new climate promises Canada is making during the critical negotiations, from targeted funds for coral reefs and a promise to halt deforestation to ending international financing for fossil-fuel projects by the end of next year.

Critics say almost all of them have a common theme: they’re mostly talk and not a lot of actual work.

Andrew Dumbrille, the lead specialist on marine shipping and conservation at World Wildlife Fund Canada, says a promise to help create at least six emissions-free shipping corridors within the next three years is a great start but Canada hasn’t said anything about which port will be affected or how.

Catherine Abreu, a member of Canada’s net-zero advisory body and the executive director of Destination Zero, says COP26 has been heavy on big headline-grabbing announcements and light on detail for implementing the promises.