OTTAWA, Nov. 26 (UPI) — Canada is preparing to recast itself as a leader on climate change, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated.
Trudeau visited the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa this week for his first meeting with the country’s 13 provincial and territorial leaders, using the conference to “speak the truth,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley later said, about Canada’s role in global environmental policy.
Canada has been stung by its image, after Washington’s rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, as a producer of dirty oil; scientists at the Trudeau meeting noted Canada’s rate of average temperature warming is twice that of the rest of the world’s, and that thawing permafrost, rising sea levels, eroding water quality and an increase in fires can be observed in Canada.
After the meeting, Trudeau said all leaders present are “united in our commitment to stepping up in the fight against climate change. Canadians understand that we need concrete action. We need a vision and we need concerted efforts across all the different levels of government in order to meet the challenges in terms of the environment and climate change.”
He summoned every premier not involved in an election campaign to join him at next week’s global climate change conference in Paris.
The prior Canadian government, led by Conservative Stephen Harper until Trudeau’s Liberal Party ousted it in October’s election, was internationally criticized for lagging on climate issues. It offered no rules to regulate carbon emissions and opposed any plan to tax carbon.
The country is far from its 2009 commitment to cut carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020, and most of Canada’s emissions improvements can be traced either to actions in specific provinces or to the 2008-09 economic downturn. Its carbon dioxide emissions have risen in each of the past five years, and the lack of progress injured Canada’s reputation as a global energy superpower.