Tough climate talks for Canada’s Trudeau and provinces

Tough climate talks for Canada’s Trudeau and provinces

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Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces a challenging day of climate change talks on Thursday with leaders of the country’s 10 provinces, one of whom opposes a key part of Ottawa’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Trudeau, whose Liberals won power last year on the back of a promise to do more to fight global warming, initially said the meeting, in Vancouver, would produce a firm schedule for meeting Canada’s international targets.

Catherine-McKenna-Canada-Environment-MinisterReuters Newsagency reports Environment Minister Catherine McKenna reiterated that the deadline for coming up with a plan had been pushed back by six months, a move she said would allow for consultations with the provinces, which have significant responsibilities for the environment.

“While everyone knows we need to reduce emissions, having a plan to get there requires work it’s not about the federal government just telling everyone what to do,” she said.

greenhouse-gas-emissions-canadaThe Liberals replaced the right-of-centre Conservatives, who critics said favoured the economy over the environment during their near decade in power.

Reuters reports the Conservatives pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, a target that official figures show is out of reach in the absence of radical measures.

Mr Trudeau wants to impose a national price on carbon, which Ms McKenna said was the most efficient way to cut emissions, as well as help the development of green technology.

keystone-canada-tar-sands-miningHowever, Brad Wall, the right-leaning premier of the western energy-producing province of Saskatchewan, opposes the idea.

“With the energy sector reeling in Canada, with the overall Canadian economy struggling, it’s my view that the very last thing we need right now is another new tax,” he told reporters.

Greg Selinger, premier of neighbouring Manitoba, told the Globe and Mail newspaper in an interview that he did not back a carbon levy that affected consumers.

Canada-Ontario-wind-farm-buildingsAnother issue for Mr Trudeau is that most of the major provinces already have in place, or plan to introduce, programs that impose a price on carbon.

Ms McKenna, speaking in an interview last week, said it was not yet clear how the new proposed national price would fit in with the provinces’ efforts.

Asked about the likelihood of Canada missing its 2030 target for cutting emissions, she said meeting the goal would be “challenging” but added this was the direction the world is going.

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