Skip to main content

Canada Saskatchewan Premier slams Ottawa's plan to ratify Paris climate pact

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a session on carbon pricing at the United Nations climate change summit, Monday November 30, 2015 in Le Bourget, France. Canad has agreed to ratify the Paris climate accord but before working out a plan with the provinces

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Trudeau government will ratify the 2015 Paris climate agreement to cut global greenhouse gas emissions before a key first ministers meeting that is being held in the fall to map out a plan to meet Canada's 2030 emission targets, according to senior federal officials.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall lashed out at the federal Liberal government on Friday for moving to ratify the accord before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with premiers and territorial leaders in late October or early November.

The ratification is also expected to take place before federal-provincial working groups on climate change have handed in their reports to the federal and provincial governments.

Story continues below advertisement

Related: Climate change: How Canada measures up against the world's top emitters

Related: Paris climate accord marks shift toward low-carbon economy

"I thought they were going to approach the federation in a more collaborative way, certainly that was supposed to be the case, so it is pretty disappointing," Mr. Wall told The Globe and Mail. "They are ratifying something in which they don't have a plan … or maybe they got the plan already and they'll tell the provinces when they tell the provinces and, if that is the case, it would be unacceptable."

Ottawa had not promised to meet with the premiers before ratifying the agreement, but the provinces had expected to be consulted first.

A senior government official said Mr. Trudeau wants to bring the Paris agreement to the House of Commons for a vote quickly, with the aim of submitting it at the UN summit on climate change in Morocco Nov. 7-18.

"The bottom line is this: This government has already committed Canada to the accord that it signed in Paris. The government is of the view that the ratification would occur before the premiers meeting," the official told The Globe.

Another senior official said Canada had been under pressure from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to ratify before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8.

Story continues below advertisement

But Mr. Wall said that makes no sense, because Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has threatened to renounce the global climate agreement if he is elected.

"I would hope the provinces of this country count more than what the UN is urging them to do, especially when we don't know what is going to happen after the U.S. election. We don't know how the outcome might impact the U.S. walking away from the Paris commitments," Mr. Wall said.

Mr. Wall added that he has heard the federal government has already decided on a phased-in carbon price without adequate consultations with the provinces.

John Bennett of the environmental group Friends of the Earth said the Trudeau government has strong reasons for wanting to ratify soon: to put pressure on the provinces to take action and to provide the means to do so. "If it wants to regulate or set a carbon price, for example, it needs an international agreement in order to give the Canadian Environmental Protection Act the authority to do that."

Conservative environment critic Ed Fast said the Trudeau Liberals are making a huge mistake by moving ahead with ratification before getting a made-in-Canada action plan.

"Prime Minister Trudeau, in signing the Paris Agreement before finalizing his pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change, is making the same mistake Jean Chrétien made with the Kyoto Accord – acting alone without the support of the provinces and territories," Mr. Fast said in a statement to The Globe.

Story continues below advertisement

The Chrétien government signed onto the Kyoto climate pact but the country never came close to meeting any targets. Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper pulled Canada out of the accord when he came to power.

Mr. Harper set a target of cutting Canada's emissions 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, a target the incoming Liberals adopted as a floor. The 2030 targets are not expected to be lowered in the current round of negotiations on a Canadian plan.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is set to meet her provincial counterparts in Montreal on Oct. 3 to discuss some of the options presented by working groups that looked at carbon pricing, technological innovation and phasing out coal-fired power plants.

China and the United States – the world's two biggest emitters – ratified the Paris accord ahead of the recent G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. Together, the two countries account for 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The landmark deal – reached in Paris after tense negotiations in which Canada played an important role – is intended to limit the increase in global temperatures to less than 2 C and require rich countries to provide climate aid to poor countries beyond 2020.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter