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 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.”

By Eric Swanson • Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 11:43
Winter Coast Salish Gathering. Photo by Zack Embree.

With federal decisions on major oil pipeline and tanker projects in the headlines, many suggest our elected officials should lean more on science to make these kinds of decisions.

Those exhortations sound very reasonable. But they reveal an enormously important misunderstanding about the role of science in making decisions on major resource projects.

Take the case of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project on the West Coast.

On one side, you have staunch opposition from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and other coastal and Fraser River First Nations, West Coast municipalities like Vancouver, Burnaby and Victoria, and a sizable percentage of B.C.’s voting public.

On the other side, you have staunch support from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton, and a sizable percentage of Alberta’s voting public.

Tweet: 'Is one side simply too dumb to understand the science — or simply willing to flatly ignore it?' http://bit.ly/2ly7haN #bcpoli #cdnpoliIs one side simply too dumb to understand the science — or simply willing to flatly ignore it?

Of course not.

By James Wilt • Friday, February 10, 2017 - 11:50
Justin Trudeau Broken Promises Town Hall Electoral Reform

Reconcile with Indigenous peoples. Make elections fairer. Invest many more billions in public transit and green infrastructure. Take climate change seriously.

Those are just a few of the things that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party committed to in the lead-up to the 2015 election, offering up a fairly stark contrast to the decade of reign by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. And on Oct. 19, 2015, almost seven million Canadians voted for that Liberal platform. In his victory speech, Trudeau spoke of “real change” and “sunny ways” and “positive politics.”

Fast forward almost 500 days.

Many major promises have been broken, and sentiments seemingly abandoned. Frankly, it’s getting rather difficult to keep up with the amount of backtracking and shapeshifting happening in Ottawa.

By James Wilt • Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 14:05

The National Energy Board (NEB) is a “captured regulator” that has “lost touch with what it means to protect the public interest.”

That’s what Marc Eliesen — former head of BC Hydro, Ontario Hydro and Manitoba Hydro, and former deputy minister of energy in Ontario and Manitoba — told the NEB Modernization Expert Panel on Wednesday morning in Vancouver.

The bottom line is that the board’s behaviour during the Trans Mountain review not only exposed the process as a farce, it exposed the board as a captured regulator,” he said to the five-member panel.

Tweet: “Regulatory capture exists when a regulator ceases to be independent and objective.” http://bit.ly/2kUzoTv #cdnpoli #EnergyEast #TransMtnRegulatory capture exists when a regulator ceases to be independent and objective.”

The Trans Mountain pipeline was reviewed with what many consider a heavily politicized NEB process, one that Trudeau had committed to changing prior to issuing a federal verdict on the project.

By Carol Linnitt • Friday, February 3, 2017 - 15:35
oil tanker ban

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s November proposal to ban oil tanker traffic from B.C.’s north coast received kind reception on the west coast of Canada where the Heiltusk First Nation was still busy responding to a devastating diesel spill from the Nathan E. Stewart, a sunken fuel barge tug that was leaking fuel into shellfish harvest grounds near Bella Bella.

The tanker ban, however, won’t protect the coast from incidents like the Nathan E. Stewart from happening again, nor from the threat of future refined oil tankers passing through the same waters, according to a new analysis by West Coast Environmental Law.

Reviewing the tanker ban proposal, which has yet to be passed as legislation, West Coast identified numerous loopholes and exclusions that allow for the continued transport of oil on B.C.’s north coast via foreign fuel barges and even, potentially, in supertankers full of refined oil products like jet fuel.

By Emma Gilchrist • Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 17:17
Caleb Behn

The Site C hydro dam in northeastern B.C. may be more than a year into construction, but the federal government still hasn’t determined whether the mega dam infringes on treaty rights — and, according to a Federal Court of Appeal ruling this week, the government isn’t obligated to answer that question.

The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations filed a judicial review in November 2014, arguing the federal government should have determined if the Site C dam infringes on treaty rights prior to issuing permits for the dam, which would flood more than 100 kilometres of river valley.

Seems like a bit of a no-brainer, right? Turns out it’s not.

This week, the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision, which stated that the federal cabinet wasn’t required to determine if there was any  infringement of treaty rights, which are protected under the Canadian constitution.

How can they authorize a project of this magnitude and not even turn their minds to whether it’s infringement given the history of this file?” Allisun Rana, legal counsel for the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations, told DeSmog Canada.

By Christopher Pollon • Thursday, December 29, 2016 - 16:56

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.

By Emma Gilchrist • Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 17:06
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.

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