Open thread: Trudeau on climate

Now that he has been elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is going to have to make some crucial decisions on climate: how much fossil fuel infrastructure he will allow (including for export); the degree to which he will promote zero-carbon energy; whether he will establish a price on carbon; how he will engage internationally; etc.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

17 thoughts on “Open thread: Trudeau on climate”

  1. Friends,

    Just over four years ago, we were getting ready for the Washington protests that helped accelerate the Keystone pipeline fight. A week out I was nervous but excited — I knew that our movement was ready to take a new step. And that’s how it turned out: enough people showed up outside the White House to constitute the country’s biggest civil disobedience action in a long time. It got the ball rolling.

    Now you’ve got the same chance in Canada. In the wake of the sweeping Liberal victory, it’s time to welcome the new government to office—and make sure that they realize there’s no time to waste. Climate Welcome is a reminder that unless the tar sands stops expanding, Canada simply can’t play a constructive role in solving the world’s climate problems.

    The movement has matured a lot since those days four years ago. It’s broad and diverse, led by First Nations and frontline communities, and part of a wider social movement for change. That’s why, at this action, people won’t just be sitting in – but delivering gifts that tell a powerful story of the kind of bold action the world needs Canada to take on climate change.

    On the first day, they’ll be bringing scientific reports, economic studies and documentation of treaty violations to show the clear case for freezing tar sands expansion. On the second day, they’ll carry all of our voices – the hundreds of thousands of us that have signed petitions or sent messages opposing dangerous, unnecessary pipeline and tar sands expansion. On the third day, people from all across Canada are joining both in person and in spirit as people deliver water from the rivers, lakes and shorelines put at risk by tar sands, pipelines and tankers. On the last day, they’ll be carrying symbols of the pathway that the world needs Canada to take forwards – solar panels for the new Prime Minister to hook up as he renovates his new home. As well as, among other things, The Leap Manifesto drafted by 350 board member Naomi Klein along with many others.

    And this action comes at just the right moment: heading to Paris, with the fossil fuel industry on the defensive, and with a new government that has yet to set a definitive climate course.

    Those of us south of the border watched with pleasure as Canada began its reboot this month: we know that the world works much better when Canada solves problems instead of causing them. But we also know that even with improved leadership, nothing happens unless people demand it.

    The time to start is now — make sure you join this historical moment in Canada: http://act.350.org/go/8411?t=1&utm_medium=email&akid=8241.337856.uuzYFF

    Onwards,

    Bill Mckibben

  2. Already adding Climate Change to the name and mandate of the Minister of the Environment is a positive

  3. The Economist recently published a pair of articles about the Trudeau government’s efforts to create Canada’s first real national climate policy:

    Let the haggling begin: With the announcement of a national carbon price, Justin Trudeau opens a new phase of his government

    Canada’s prime minister secures a deal for a national carbon price: He may need more carrots to keep the provinces on his side

    It’s not surprising that they don’t call out the plan as grossly inadequate since, like Trudeau himself, The Economist really hasn’t grasped the full importance of climate change and the need for an aggressive transition away from fossil fuels.

  4. Trudeau welcomes Trump’s Keystone XL decision

    U.S. president approves $8B pipeline project but says it’s still subject to ‘renegotiation of terms by us’

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is strongly in favour of Donald Trump’s decision to green-light the Keystone XL pipeline project, a move he says will be a boon for Canadian jobs and government coffers, and help a hobbled Alberta recover from the steep decline in oil prices.

    Trudeau said he has spoken to the new U.S. president twice, and on both occasions he pressed upon him Canada’s steadfast support for the $8-billion project, which could carry more than 800,000 barrels of Alberta oil a day to refineries in Texas.

    “I reiterated my support for the project. I’ve been on the record for many years supporting [Keystone XL] because it leads to economic growth and good jobs for Albertans,” he told reporters assembled in Calgary for the federal cabinet retreat.

    “We know we can get our resources to market more safely and responsibly while meeting our climate change goals,” he said, adding Premier Rachel Notley’s hard cap on oilsands emissions will ensure Canada meets its reduction targets.

  5. The greatest responsibility of any prime minister is to get our resources to market and yes that includes the oilsands,” the prime minister said in response, while noting he would not abandon his commitment to protecting the environment for future generations.

    At one point, an impassioned Trudeau asked the crowd to raise their hands if they believe in climate change, and virtually everyone in the audience did so.

    “We have to manage the transition off fossil fuels,” Trudeau said, while noting even former prime minister Stephen Harper said the country would have to commit itself to “decarbonization.”

    Trudeau championed his government’s approval of two major pipeline projects, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and Enbridge’s Line 3, comments which were met with the loudest applause from the audience.

  6. A historic moment for B.C. politics – and our environment
    KATHRYN HARRISON

    The governing agreement between the NDP and Green Party represents a historic moment in British Columbia politics. It anticipates not only the first minority government in the province in 65 years, but also the first government in Canadian history predicated on support from the Greens. The two parties’ commitment to proportional representation could yield even more dramatic and lasting changes to the provincial political landscape.

    The agreement also represents a potentially historic moment for the Canadian oil industry and economy. The Greens and NDP’s shared commitment to climate action and opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion project presents both economic and political challenges to the proposed pipeline.

    When the BC Liberal government is defeated in June, as seems inevitable, opposition to the pipeline will no longer be a matter of individual citizens, environmental groups, or even local governments and First Nations, but of a provincial government acting on behalf of all British Columbians.

    At the heart of the Trudeau government’s 2016 climate plan lies a political compromise: a commitment to pursue reductions in Canada’s own greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for expansion of fossil-fuel exports to other countries via new pipelines. The looming NDP-Green partnership in British Columbia reveals both the political fragility of that compromise and the contradiction of climate leadership funded by fossil-fuel development.

  7. On the environment, Mr Trudeau has failed to please green activists while alienating voters in oil-producing provinces. Albertans say new environmental rules for pipelines are the reason TransCanada, an Albertan firm, this month cancelled construction of the proposed Energy East pipeline. They allege that Mr Trudeau is trying to “beggar the west” just like his father Pierre, a prime minister who in 1980 proposed a plan to hold down oil prices.

    In fact, Energy East was doomed by today’s low oil price and by overcapacity. One reason for it is that the government approved another project, an expansion of the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline through British Columbia, which alienated environmentalists. They are not mollified by a plan to impose a national carbon price. Parliament’s environment commissioner chided the government this month for implementing its climate-change policies too slowly.

  8. Paris agreement targets leave ‘alarming gap’ to slow climate change: UN report
    Canada has no immediate plans to raise emission cutting targets, despite UN pressure

    Canada has no immediate plans to raise its targets for cutting emissions, despite pressure from the United Nations to step it up or risk the failure of the Paris climate change agreement.

    In the 2015 Paris accord, 196 countries, including Canada, agreed to set national targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions en route to preventing the planet from warming up more than two degrees Celsius on average compared with pre-industrial levels.

    UN Environment Tuesday released its eighth annual emissions gap report, which says Paris signatories have thus far only committed to one-third of the cuts to emissions that will be required to achieve the goal.

    Canada is one of the biggest laggards, with the UN saying that not only are Canada’s existing targets too low, it does not yet have the policies in place to even meet them. The report calls on Canada and many other developed nations, including the United States, Mexico and the European Union, to step up their planned cuts or there is zero chance of meeting the two degree goal.

    All countries that signed Paris are expected to produce updated targets by 2020 and the UN report says the technology is there for the world to hit the necessary cuts, it just needs the will to do it.

  9. “Canada has committed to achieving cuts to emissions to 30 per cent below what they were in 2005, which means about 523 million tonnes a year. It is at least the fourth time Canada has set an emissions target and thus far has never met one of them.

    If every item in the national climate change framework is completed, Canada will still be more than 40 million tonnes from its 2030 goal.”

  10. Martyn Brown: Justin Trudeau declares war on British Columbia

    “That pipeline is going to get built,” Justin Trudeau has declared on Edmonton’s CHED radio.

    “We will stand by our decision. We will ensure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline gets built.”

    With that, Canada’s prime minister has declared war on British Columbia’s efforts to stop that widely unwanted project, which our provincial government has taken new actions to frustrate, further to its other announced and ongoing efforts.

    In pandering to the all-powerful interests of Big Oil—and to the voters of Alberta—yet another Trudeau has given British Columbians the finger.

    It is an appalling political intervention, aimed at placating the increasingly antsy shareholders of Kinder Morgan and the other wealthy purveyors of dirty fossil fuels, whose industry is choking our planet and threatening our oceans.

    “We can’t be simply trapped in the American market and that’s why getting this pipeline built, which has been waited for a long time, is something that this government is serious about,” Trudeau brayed. The environment, Aboriginal rights and title, and B.C.’s coastal communities be damned.

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