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. 


Latest News on DeSmog Canada about Justin Trudeau & Climate Change


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By James Wilt • Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 09:44
Justin Trudeau UNDRIP Canada

First opposed, then endorsed. It’s now pledged, but called “unworkable.”

In Canada the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is not ratified, nor from a legal perspective even really understood.

The history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous rights has been a sordid one. But all that was supposed to change with the nation’s latecomer adoption of the declaration. After years of federal Conservative inaction on the file, Justin Trudeau took to the campaign trail with a promise to restore Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

By Kai Nagata • Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 12:49
Justin Trudeau Sunny Ways

This piece originally appeared on the Dogwood website.

Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways!” For most people, that line in Justin Trudeau’s victory speech two years ago heralded a return to “positive politics” after 10 years of Stephen Harper’s icy glare.

It’s also a reference to tricking someone into taking their clothes off.

By Judith Lavoie • Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 13:40
Salmon Farm

The federal government is playing a shell game, claiming to have acted on most of the Cohen Commission recommendations, but failing to fully implement many of them, say critics, pointing to lack of action on fundamental issues such as fish farms and removing responsibility for the promotion of salmon farming from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

They are being very disingenuous by deeming some of the recommendations irrelevant or saying they have addressed them when they have not implemented them,” said Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwas’mis First Nation and chairman of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance.

The 2012 Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, headed by Justice Bruce Cohen, cost taxpayers more than $37 million and came up with 75 recommendations designed to save wild salmon runs after the disastrous 2009 sockeye run.

By Matt Jacques • Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 07:34
Justin Trudeau Yukon Gateway Resources Announcement

In early September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than $360 million in funding for roads to service mining operations in two remote regions of the Yukon.

There’s just one catch: most of those mines haven’t even been approved yet.  

Some worry the influx of investment — $247 million from the federal government and $112 million from the territory — handcuffs the region to mining development that hasn’t been demonstrated to serve the community’s long-term interests.

Don Reid, conservation zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada, said the timing of the announcement is problematic and calls the objectivity of the mine review process into question.

By Carol Linnitt • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 13:28
BC wildfire

Reading Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand’s report on Canada’s climate action, we’d have to say that the woman sounds … ticked.

Here are five reasons Gelfand is wagging a disappointed finger at Canada’s environment officials.

By Carol Linnitt • Friday, September 29, 2017 - 15:52
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Freedom of Information Canada

The federal government received a failing grade in a new national audit of freedom of information regimes across Canada.

The vast majority of federal departments under the Liberal government, which campaigned on a promise to increase information disclosure and transparency in Canada, failed to fulfill requests within the legal timeframe, the audit found.

I was surprised at the depth of the how poor the federal performance in the audit was,” Fred Vallance-Jones, audit lead author and associate professor at University of King’s College, told DeSmog Canada. “That wasn’t expected.”

By Carol Linnitt • Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 10:34
Justin Trudeau Environmental Reform DeSmog Canada

Scientists and environmental groups breathed a sigh of relief when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly followed through on a campaign promise to modernize Canada’s environmental laws.

Within a year of being elected, the Liberals initiated four parallel reviews of key environmental legislation weakened or eliminated under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

But now, as that review process is coming to a close, experts are back to holding their breath.

By Emma Gilchrist • Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - 09:55
Justin Trudeau kayak

Last week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to capture international headlines for a kayak outing on the Niagara River in Ontario.

How, you may ask? Well Trudeau paddled up to a family’s dock and had a brief conversation with them about water levels. According to Elle Magazine, he looked “picture perfect” while doing it. It all very quickly became a Twitter sensation.

Trudeau’s photogenic boat trip coincided with World Environment Day and in a speech afterward, the prime minister vowed to continue to fight climate change.

The American press, still bewildered by their president’s widely criticized decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, went wild.

By James Wilt • Monday, May 15, 2017 - 16:41
Justin Trudeau National Energy Board Modernization

After six months of consultations, the National Energy Board (NEB) Modernization Expert Panel has delivered its long-awaited report.

The results are damning.

In our consultations we heard of a National Energy Board that has fundamentally lost the  confidence of many Canadians,” the five-member panel wrote. “We heard that Canadians have serious concerns that the NEB has been ‘captured’ by the oil and gas industry.”

The 87-page report issued 26 key recommendations to repair the oft-criticized quasi-judicial tribunal, responsible for regulating interprovincial and international oil, gas and electricity projects.

Those include establishing a one-year review process by cabinet to ascertain whether a major project meets “national interest” prior to regulatory review, replacing the NEB with a “Canadian Energy Transmission Commission” and placing a broader focus on interprovincial transmission lines and renewable energy.

In addition, the panel recommended the government create a new agency responsible for collecting information about energy, relocate board headquarters back to Ottawa, considerably improve consultation with Indigenous peoples including an Indigenous Major Projects Office and extend the timelines for review of major projects (which were accelerated under the previous Conservative government).

By Michael Harris • Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 16:50
Justin Trudeau, Broken Promises

This article originally appeared on iPolitics.

The man sitting at the head of the table has a face that should be on money.

It is calm, etched with wrinkle lines of infinite patience, utterly immune to honeyed words. Tweet: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has heard more vows than parsons in Reno’s drive-thru wedding chapels http://bit.ly/2m63oML #bcpoli #cdnpoliGrand Chief Stewart Phillip has heard more vows than the parsons in Reno’s drive-thru wedding chapels — most of them destined to be broken by the politicians who made them. Yet behind the softness, the weary eyes suggest something else. These are undefeated eyes.

I am in the downtown Vancouver boardroom of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the gentle voice is saying some very tough things.

My wife and I were scheduled to march in the Chinese New Year’s parade in Vancouver, until we found out that Trudeau was going to be there,” he says. “No way was I going to meet him unless I was on one side of the barrier, and he was on the other.”

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