Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Climate Change

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. 


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Now 79, David Anderson has been fighting to prevent oil tankers on the coast of British Columbia since he was first elected 48 years ago. In the early 1970s, he was the architect of an inside passage tanker moratorium and a number of other restrictions on B.C. offshore drilling and tanker exports imposed by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau — which may or may not still exist. Anderson would go on to serve as federal Minister of Environment under Jean Chretien, after a stint in provincial politics, including as leader of the provincial Liberal party. Anderson left politics in 2006, but has remained a steadfast advocate for the coast he loves.

Justin Trudeau live interview with Vancouver Sun

In a Facebook Live interview with the Vancouver Sun this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau trotted out a favourite talking point of the oil industry.

 “Where we have to recognize that we’re not going to find common ground is in the people who say the only thing we can do to save the planet is to shut down the oilsands tomorrow and stop using fossil fuels altogether within a week,” Trudeau said.

There are a few things wrong with this statement.

1) Who’s campaigning to shut down the oilsands tomorrow? I’ve been writing about energy and environment for nearly 10 years and I can’t name a single credible group that’s ever campaigned to shut down the oilsands. Heck, I can’t even think of one that’s campaigning to decrease production. They almost all campaign to limit expansion.

Tar sands Mildred Lake plant

At a speech given to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he intends to work with President-elect Donald Trump to approve the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. 

The speech comes as Trump revealed in a recent interview with Fox News that one of the first things he intends to do in office is grant permits for both Keystone XL and the perhaps equally controversial Dakota Access pipeline. Because Keystone XL North crosses the U.S.-Canada border, current processes require it to obtain a presidential permit from the U.S. Department of State, which the Obama administration has denied.

The next State Department, however, could be led by the recently retired CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, who was just nominated to be U.S. Secretary of State and soon will face a Senate hearing and vote. Potentially complicating this situation is the fact that Exxon holds substantial interest in both tar sands projects and companies, which stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline bringing this carbon-intensive crude oil across the border.

Canada’s federal scientists have won the right to speak freely about their research and science without upper level bureaucratic control, a feature central to restrictive communications protocols under the Harper government.

The move to officially unmuzzle scientists comes after the Professional Institute of Public Service Canada (PIPSC), Canada’s largest union federal employees including 15,000 scientists, researchers and engineers, negotiated to include scientists’ right to speak in a collective agreement deal.

This is an enormous win not only for federal scientists but for all Canadians,” PIPSC President Debi Daviau said in a statement.

Tweet: “Following the defeat of the Harper government, we vowed no government should ever again silence science” http://bit.ly/2hrkIXF #cdnpoli“Following the defeat last year of the Harper government, we vowed that no government should ever again silence science. This new provision will help ensure that remains the case now and in the future.”

By Matt Horne for the Pembina Institute.

With Canada’s first credible national climate change plan within reach, Tweet: Now’s not the time to be watering down core climate policies that would help reduce emissions http://bit.ly/2h7vSCX #bcpoli #cdnpolinow is not the time to be watering down core policies that would help reduce emissions. That’s why the federal government should reject Premier Christy Clark’s posturing on carbon pricing and stick to the pan-Canadian carbon price committed to in October.

The Premier has been arguing that cap-and-trade systems to cut carbon pollution in Ontario and Quebec won’t be as stringent as B.C.’s carbon tax, and as a result that B.C. shouldn’t need to increase the carbon tax in line with Trudeau’s plan.

Most Canadians weren’t surprised to hear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline this week.

Yet Trudeau’s announcement was so thoroughly cut through with political spin and misinformation some have described it as “Orwellian.”

So where did the Prime Minister rank highest on the spin-master index?

Here are our top five myth and misinformation moments from Trudeau’s Kinder Morgan announcement.

Justin Trudeau announced the approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline Tuesday, saying the project is integral to meeting Canada’s climate commitments.

Tweet: Sorry, what? @JustinTrudeau says #KinderMorgan is integral to meeting Canada’s climate commitments http://bit.ly/2g3PQLx #bcpoli #cdnpoli“Today’s decision is an integral part of our plan to uphold the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions while creating jobs and protecting the environment,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will twin an existing pipeline running from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. increasing transport capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000 barrels per day. Trudeau also approved an application to increase capacity of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline from 390,000 to 915,000 barrels per day.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the two pipelines combined represent an increase of 23 to 28 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent released into the atmosphere.

Under the Paris Agreement Canada pledged to reduce emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada’s current policies aren’t expected to meet those targets. According to a recent analysis by Climate Action Network, Canada is expected to miss those targets by 91 megatonnes.

Trans Mountain and Line 3 put Canada at a further disadvantage when it comes to meeting those targets.

The federal Liberals have issued an approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project, subject to 157 conditions.

In doing so, the government has granted permission for the Houston-based company to expand the capacity of its Edmonton-to-Burnaby network capacity by 690,000 barrels/day, fulfilling pleas by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to allow giant corporations to export more carbon-intensive bitumen.

And it completely undermines any alleged commitment to “reconciliation” with Indigenous peoples.

It’s not as if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand the stakes. In mandate letters sent to each of his ministers in November 2015, he emphasized a renewed “nation-to-nation relationship, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

Trudeau also pledged that his government would “fully adopt and work to implement” the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which included the provision that “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.”

That dream has been slowly dying ever since.
Mount Polley Mine Spill

Fallout from environmental assessments or development decisions that don’t meet the highest scientific standards will land on the shoulders of the younger generation, which is why Canada’s lack of scientific rigour and transparency must be addressed now, say more than 1,300 young scientists who have written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and six cabinet ministers.

As the next generation of scientists in Canada, we are professionally and personally affected by how government evaluates the pros and cons of development, especially large-scale infrastructure and energy projects,” said lead author Aerin Jacob, a University of Victoria postdoctoral fellow who specializes in tradeoffs between conservation planning and sustainable development.

Reviews based on limited or biased scientific information potentially put the environment and the well-being of Canadians at risk,” she said.

Implement an economy-wide carbon tax, attain “social licence,” score a federal approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

That’s been the advertised logic of the Alberta NDP since the introduction of its Climate Leadership Plan a year ago. Nearly every mention of carbon pricing and associated policies — a 100 megatonne oilsands cap, coal-fired power phase-out and methane reduction target — has been accompanied by a commitment to “improve opportunities to get our traditional energy products to new markets.”
 
Such a sentiment was reinforced with Premier Rachel Notley’s retort on Oct. 3 to the announcement of federally mandated carbon pricing: “Alberta will not be supporting this proposal absent serious concurrent progress on energy infrastructure.”

But for some, Tweet: #Alberta NDP’s rhetoric represents a fundamental misunderstanding of #sociallicence http://bit.ly/2fzLs7Y #ableg #bcpoli #cdnpolithe Alberta NDP’s rhetoric represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the point of social licence, with the government assuming that moderate emissions reduction policies allows it to ignore serious concerns about Indigenous rights and international climate commitments.

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