California Governor Jerry Brown is chiding Stephen Harper for not doing enough on climate change, saying the Prime Minister needs to "get with it" and help battle global warming.
At the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto on Wednesday, representatives of more than a dozen subnational jurisdictions across the Western Hemisphere vowed to lead the fight against greenhouse gas emissions in the face of inaction from the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.
No one was more pointed than Mr. Brown, who took direct aim at Mr. Harper and global warming deniers in the U.S. Congress who have stymied President Barack Obama's environmental agenda.
"He ought to be re-examining what he's doing," Mr. Brown said at a joint press conference with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec's Philippe Couillard. "I would say: Get on board. Let's get going. Let's work together to make a world that really will work for all of us."
California and Quebec run a joint cap-and-trade system that limits the amount of carbon industries can burn. Ontario is planning to join the system in the next three years, and is in the midst of a mass expansion of public transit.
Mr. Harper, who was not at the summit, has refused to put a price on carbon, and stepped back from Canada's greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
A spokesman for federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq fired back. In an e-ail, Shane Buckingham described carbon pricing as a policy that "will kill jobs" and "raise the cost of everything."
"Our government opposes carbon taxes and any schemes that will saddle hard-working Canadians with higher taxes and prices," he wrote.
Ms. Wynne dismissed these concerns in her opening speech to the summit, saying it is significantly worse for the economy to do nothing about climate change.
"Growth that irreversibly alters the climate of our planet is not real growth. It's false and it's futile," she told a breakfast session at the Royal York Hotel. "The kind that will ultimately undermine the standard of living that we value so highly."
Mr. Couillard said that, as an oil-producing country, Canada has a special responsibility to act on climate change. Between the cap-and-trade system and British Columbia's carbon tax, he pointed out that more than 70 per cent of Canadians will soon live in a jurisdiction with carbon pricing.
"We at the provincial level and territorial level are filling the void, if I may say so, and showing the rest of the world that we are acting," he said.
In a later meeting with representatives of Canadian provinces, U.S., Mexican and Brazilian states, officials outlined for Ms. Wynne a range of subnational climate-change programs across the Americas.
Pedro Spadale, a staffer with the governor of Rio de Janeiro, said his state has massively ramped up public transit so 63 per cent of commuters by next year will get around on subways and buses. Diego De Leon Segovia, a representative of the governor of Mexico's Jalisco state, said his government is working to manage scarce water supplies.
Even Alberta, home of the oil sands, has doubled its carbon tax on large polluters and brought in tougher emissions targets.
"Alberta is doing a course correction when it talks about greenhouse gas emissions throughout the province," said Bill Werry, the province's deputy minister of the environment.
Mr. Brown could not resist a further shot at global warming do-nothings. In a later speech to the conference, he described them as "troglodytes; we have a lot of troglodytes south of the border."
"For the record," added Ms. Wynne "there are troglodytes everywhere."