TORONTO — Ontario’s ag ministry is studying the potential impact of the latest international environmental deal that requires Canada and other signatory nations to slash reliance on pesticides by 2030.
Negotiators settled on cutting pesticide “risk” by 50% — a potentially more restrictive measure than cutting “usage” by that much — in the final agreement reached after two weeks of haggling at the COP15 biodiversity conference in Montreal. The Trudeau government was among those that signed on to the framework on Dec. 19.
OMAFRA minister Lisa Thompson’s office was still trying to assess what it all means for this province’s farmers, when contacted by Farmers Forum.
“We are currently reviewing the proposals to understand the potential roles and implications for Ontario, set out in the UN agreement signed by the government of Canada,” Jack Sullivan, communications director for Thompson’s office, said in an email.
Sullivan pointed out that OMAFRA works collaboratively with the provincial Environment ministry on pesticide matters as well as with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency — “who are responsible for pesticide regulation in Canada.”
The Ford government, he also noted, is a promoter of “agricultural best management practices” to reduce environmental impacts. That includes $2 million being spent over two years on a “Fertilizer Challenge” to develop “alternative fertilizer solutions and technology” for farmers.
The COP15 deal does touch on fertilizer, with a goal of cutting “excess nutrients lost to the environment by at least half” by 2030. It also calls for a 50% reduction in food waste.
Beyond agriculture is the headline-making requirement that each country conserve 30% of its land and water by 2030 — or “30 by 30.” It’s not immediately clear how this might apply in Canada, where over 80% of the land is uninhabited anyway.
Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault likened the new deal to the Paris Climate Accord’s pledge to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Canada, along with like-minded countries, said from the start that 30 by 30 must be our 1.5 degrees for nature,” Guilbeault said. “Science tells us this is the minimum needed to protect the future of our planet.”
At the conference, Justin Trudeau pledged $350 million to help developing countries with their goals. Combined with previous commitments made by the governing Liberals, Canadian taxpayers are now funding a whopping $1.5 billion in foreign biodiversity projects.