Below you will find background information, news and analysis so you can learn more about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's work on the issue of climate change.
After reading the overview section, we would encourage you to explore the news and analysis section that follows.
Overview of Justin Trudeau and Climate Change
When running in the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada made specific commitments to address climate change:
- “We will fulfill our G20 commitment and phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term.”
- “We will also work in partnership with the United States and Mexico to develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environmental agreement.”
- “Together, we will attend the Paris climate conference, and within 90 days formally meet to establish a pan-Canadian framework for combatting climate change.”
- “We will endow the Low Carbon Economy Trust with $2 billion in our mandate.”
Since Trudeau and his Liberal party won the federal election on October 19, 2015, the party has appeared so far to be committed to fulfilling their election promises.
As part of his new cabinet, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed senior Liberal Party member Stephan Dion to the position of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Dion is a longtime and very outspoken supporter on the issue of climate change and when Dion was leader of the Liberal party he ran on a “Green Shift” platform proposing to introduce a national tax on carbon.
Mr. Trudeau appointed Catherine McKenna as Minister to the newly named Environment and Climate Change portfolio. Ms. McKenna is a long time social justice and human rights lawyer and it is her first time elected to federal office. Early on, Ms. McKenna made strong statements about the desired outcomes for her government at the historic Paris COP-21 climate change summit that was held in December, 2015.
At the Paris climate summit, both Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister McKenna recieved global media attention for the renewed, positive role Canada played at the conference. Canada signed the Paris Agreement which aims to limit global temperature increase to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible, phase out fossil fuels, finance clean energy and aid less-developed countries in achieving their climate targets.
On March 3, 2016, the Trudeau government and provincial Premiers convened a First Minister's Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia where all parties agreed to a climate change framework that includes an agreement in principle for a carbon-pricing mechanism. At the event Trudeau stated that “[t]he agreement as spelled out in the declaration, that the transition to a low-carbon economy will happen by a broad suite of measures that will include pricing carbon, that is something that we have all committed to.”
Justin Trudeau and Fossil Fuel Emissions
Although the Canadian government under Trudeau has made positive climate progress, many Canadians feel the Prime Minister's position on the fossil fuel industry conflicts with his climate commitments. Trudeau has yet to take a firm stance on the three major pipelines proposed to export carbon-intensive fossil fuels from the Alberta oilsands, the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and the TransCanada Energy East pipeline. In addition to ambivalence on pipelines, which require costly and long-term investment in the fossil fuel industry, the federal government has also supported the creation of a liquified fracked gas export industry in British Columbia through the approval of the Woodfibre LNG terminal near Vancouver.
Trudeau indicated he will work with Canada's premiers to achieve provincial climate targets although he has not stated how he will achieve Canada's overall climate targets if emissions at the provincial level (especially in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan) continue to rise due to the extraction, consumption and export of fossil fuels.
Interested in getting our weekly round up of the latest news on Trudeau and climate change and other major issues in Canada? Click here and sign up to our newsletter!
Latest News on DeSmog Canada about Justin Trudeau & Climate Change
Top-level scientists and academics from across Canada are calling on the federal government to put the brakes on construction of the Site C dam and, in an unusual move, the call is being supported by the Royal Society of Canada.
A stinging criticism of the assessment process, lack of consideration for First Nations concerns and the B.C. government’s decision to start construction despite ongoing court cases, was released at an Ottawa news conference Tuesday with a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a statement asking that the federal government not issue any more permits for the hydroelectric mega-project until there have been additional reviews and the courts have decided on First Nations court cases.
A “Statement of Concern” signed by 250 scientists and academics, amounting to a Who’s-Who of Canadian academia, asks that the B.C. government submit the project for review by the B.C. Utilities Commission, something suggested by Joint Review Panel, but rejected by the provincial government.
There should also be a review by the Department of Justice to analyze whether the project infringes on aboriginal and treaty rights, the statement says.
“Based on evidence raised across our many disciplines, the undersigned scholars have concluded that there were significant gaps and inadequacies in the regulatory review and environmental assessment process for the Site C Project,” says the statement.
It’s been a rough start to 2016 for many companies hoping to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals in Canada, with the price for the product continuing its freefall and many projects delayed due to onerous approval processes.
But LNG companies certainly aren’t letting the bad news dissuade them from pressuring government: since the Liberals were elected in mid-October, LNG companies have lobbied federal officials in 63 different meetings.
This article originally appeared on the Common Sense Canadian.
It all started off so well. Justin Trudeau launched his career as Prime Minister with big promises to First Nations and the growing number of Canadians concerned about the environment. He installed indigenous MPs in key portfolios like Justice and Fisheries; vowed a new respect for Aboriginal people and their rights; re-introduced the climate to Environment Canada.
But five months later, it appears former New York Governor Mario Cuomo was right when he famously said, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” And the prose Justin Trudeau is authoring these days tells a very different story than it did on the campaign trail.
For the past couple weeks, Canadians have been wringing their hands about the suicide epidemic in the Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Cross Lake, Manitoba.
In the community of 6,000, six people have killed themselves in two months and more than 140 suicide attempts have been made in two weeks, leading the First Nation to declare a state of emergency.
Much of the blame has been placed on historic injustices — the very real fall-out of colonization and the residential school system.
But another historic injustice has also come to light: hydro development — which can be traced back to the Northern Flood Agreement of 1977. That agreement forced people from their homes and disrupted hunting, trapping and fishing.
In 2015, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger personally apologized for the damage caused by hydro development to Cross Lake’s traditional land, way of life and cultural identity. He also acknowledged that Indigenous people were not properly consulted on the Jenpeg hydroelectric dam, 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
This is a guest post by Clare Demerse of Clean Energy Canada.
Canada’s premiers and prime minister headed home from Vancouver last week having launched a brand-new climate change negotiation process. Set against a backdrop of clean tech power brokers and pipeline skirmishes, the lead-up to last week’s meeting generated headlines mainly for the faultlines it brought to the surface.
No doubt about it: Tough conversations are coming, especially about the best way to price carbon pollution. But as the hot rhetoric cools down, here are four reasons for optimism based on the results of last week’s First Ministers’ meeting.
This is a guest post by Mitchell Beer, which originally appeared on GreenPAC.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial/territorial premiers meet in Vancouver on Thursday, they’ll be searching for agreement on the pan-Canadian climate framework that Trudeau promised to introduce within 90 days of the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris.
It’s a big enough, ambitious enough agenda. But the real question facing First Ministers, and the elephant in the room that will dominate their deliberations, is bigger still. It comes in two parts:
What kind of economy do we want for Canada in the 21st century? (Because it’s 2016!)
And however that’s answered, is the plan realistic against anything we know about the future shape of global energy use?
Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government issued 14 permits for work on the $9 billion Site C dam during the writ period of the last election — a move that was offside according to people familiar with the project and the workings of the federal government.
“By convention, only routine matters are dealt with after the writ is dropped,” said Harry Swain, the chair of the Joint Review Panel that reviewed the Site C dam. “Permits and licences are only issued when a government considers the matter to be non-controversial and of no great public importance.”
Swain served for 22 years in the federal government, ending as deputy minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and later Industry. In an exclusive interview with DeSmog Canada last year, Swain said the B.C. government shouldn’t have moved ahead with construction on the dam until the demand case became clearer.
A broad coalition of organizations from across Canada wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt construction of the Site C dam by refusing to issue federal permits needed for construction of the $9-billion project that will flood 23,000 hectares of land along 107-kilometres of the Peace River Valley.
A letter to Trudeau, signed by 25 organizations ranging from Amnesty International and the Council of Canadians to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the David Suzuki Foundation, asks that the new Liberal government live up to its promises of a new relationship with First Nations.
“Our organizations are profoundly concerned that construction of the Site C dam is being pushed ahead despite the conclusion of a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment that it would severely and permanently undermine indigenous peoples’ use of the land; harm rare plants and other biodiversity; make fishing unsafe for at least a generation and submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites,” an open letter released by the coalition says.
The letter urges Trudeau to rescind all permits and to re-examine the previous government’s approval of the dam, which was given despite Treaty 8 claims that it violated treaty rights.
“The people of Treaty 8 have said no to Site C. Any government that is truly committed to reconciliation with indigenous peoples, to respecting human rights and to promoting truly clean energy must listen,” the letter says.
The next round of the National Energy Board’s (NEB) hearings for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline are scheduled to begin January 19 in Vancouver, B.C.
Climate advocates and critics of the National Energy Board are disappointed the review process will continue on under rules established by the previous federal government, especially since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to make the process more credible and evidence-based.
The Liberal party platform promised to immediately review the process, restoring “robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments” as well as restoring “lost protections” eliminated during the former government’s sweeping changes to environmental law.
At a campaign stop in August 2015, Trudeau told Kai Nagata, energy and democracy director at the Dogwood Initiative, that the NEB overhaul would apply to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.
“Yes. Yes,” Trudeau said. “It applies to existing projects, existing pipelines as well.”
For the second time in two days Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been called on to suspend the regulatory review process for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project in British Columbia. Final hearings for the project begin next week.
“You are going to break your campaign promise to overhaul Canada environmental regulatory regime because of your refusal to suspend or cancel the reviews of the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain pipeline and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline,” Cam Fenton, 350.org’s Canadian tarsands campaigner, said in a letter sent to Trudeau Wednesday.
“If you will not show the necessary leadership to stop these reviews, people will.”
Yesterday, Burnaby, B.C. Mayor Derek Corrigan made headlines with his letter to Trudeau requesting the review of the Trans Mountain project be suspended on the grounds the current federal regulatory framework is “deeply flawed” and “inadequate.”