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Trudeau plans to go to Paris without emission reduction targets

250.000 gegen TTIP & CETA

It would appear that when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the United Nations COP 21 climate summit in Paris next month he will not present new emission reduction targets for Canada, despite that being a central element of the negotiations. The COP 20 agreement reached in Lima last year had stipulated that countries would submit their proposed emissions reduction targets by March 2015 and that all pledges would be reviewed in November 2015.

This morning, the CBC reports that former World Wildlife Fund chief executive officer Gerald Butts is “expected to lead the Trudeau approach to climate change and environment generally.” That article adds that an unnamed source who used to work with Butts says he wants to avoid conflict with the provinces, “which is why Trudeau did not talk about national targets for Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions during the election.”

The Liberal platform this election stated, “Together, we will attend the Paris climate conference, and within 90 days formally meet to establish a pan-Canadian framework for combatting climate change.” The Canadian Press now reports, “Canada’s premiers huddled by teleconference call Thursday and agreed that everyone not facing an election campaign will attend December’s climate change summit in Paris with prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau.” And the CBC article clarified the premiers meeting will be within 90 day after Paris, so likely before March 11, 2016.

The Liberal platform also promised, “We will end the cycle of federal parties – of all stripes – setting arbitrary targets without a real federal/provincial/territorial plan in place. We will instead partner with provincial and territorial leaders to develop real climate change solutions, consistent with our international obligations to protect the planet, all while growing our economy. …We will work together to establish national emissions-reduction targets… These targets must recognise the economic cost and catastrophic impact that a greater-than-two-degree increase in average global temperatures would represent, as well as the need for Canada to do its part to prevent that from happening.”

While that may sound laudable, it remains to be seen how it will be done given the climate record of the provincial premiers.

Just last month, Alberta premier Rachel Notley said she supports both the Energy East and Kinder Morgan pipelines. She said Energy East should not become a “political football”. This despite the fact that the Energy East pipeline would move 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, generate about 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, and enable a 39 per cent increase in tar sands production from 2012 levels. It has also been estimated that the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan pipeline would result in about 270 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over a 35-year period.

New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant is also a strong proponent of the Energy East pipeline.

While Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec premier Philippe Couillard have expressed concerns about Energy East, neither has explicitly said no to project. And even though a recent poll found that 59.5 per cent of people in Manitoba are opposed to Energy East, Manitoba premier Greg Selinger has been muted on the issue.

It’s also troubling that Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is a strong proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline (which would result in 22 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year), British Columbia premier Christy Clark is promoting the Liquefied Natural Gas industry in her province (just five LNG terminals would generate about 28 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year), as well as the Site C dam (at 150,000 tonnes a year), and Northwest Territories premier Bob McLeod is promoting a proposal for a 100,000 barrel per day Arctic Gateway pipeline from the tar sands to the Arctic Ocean.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “We are demanding a Canadian energy strategy which features meaningful regulatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, a just transition to conservation, energy efficiency and the rapid expansion of public and community-owned renewable energy. Intimately linked to these efforts is our call to oppose the ‘free trade’ agenda of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, given they undermine the ability of all levels of governments to regulate the sale or extraction of fossil fuels and promote renewable energy.”

We have also called for a freeze on fossil fuel extraction – by leaving 80 per cent of all existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground – and have signed on the Leap manifesto which demands “no new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future” and asserts that we could have a 100 per cent clean economy by 2050.

Last year, the Canadian government under prime minister Stephen Harper told the United Nations that emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector are projected to soar by 48 per cent by 2030. That can’t be what happens. Simply put, the federal and provincial governments need to do more than just get together in Paris and at a business-as-usual follow-up meeting in the spring, they need to fundamentally change the path they are taking us on.

Further reading
Barlow to intervene at the COP 21 climate summit in Paris-Le Bourget (October 2015 blog)
Council of Canadians endorses the ‘Climate Welcome’ days of action, Nov. 5-8 (October 2015 blog)