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.
"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.
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.
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.