Governments from around the world remain committed to the adoption of increasingly tough climate policies, despite the prospect that president-elect Donald Trump will abandon U.S. commitments made under the Paris Accord, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said from Morocco Thursday.
Ms. McKenna spent the week at the United Nations climate summit in Marrakesh, where delegates worked on plans to implement the Paris Accord. However, the UN meeting was rocked last week by the surprise election victory of Mr. Trump, who has dismissed concerns about global warming and elevated climate skeptics to key advisory positions in his transition team.
Despite Mr. Trump's victory, Ottawa will continue to pursue its climate agenda, the federal Environment Minister said. That includes a national minimum carbon price, regulations to cut methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, and support for energy efficiency and renewable energy technology.
"We're moving forward, as is the world," she said on a conference call Thursday as the summit headed into its final day. "Everyone is absolutely committed to climate action," she added, ignoring the prospect of a dramatically different approach in the United States after Mr. Trump's inauguration in January.
In a statement released Thursday, delegates to the UN summit warned that the global climate "is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate."
"We call for the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority," the statement said.
China's vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin responded to a much-circulated, four-year-old tweet by Mr. Trump in which he claimed climate change is a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese. Mr. Liu noted the United Nations began working toward a climate agreement in the late 1980s with the support of Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
"We hope that the U.S. will continue to play a leadership role in the climate-change process," Mr. Liu said, in response to questions about the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rejected calls from Conservative opposition leaders and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall to jettison his carbon pricing plan. The critics argue the climate policy will make Canadian businesses uncompetitive if American rivals do not face similar costs.
After the U.S. election, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said it "makes no sense for our federal government to push ahead with imposing a national carbon tax when our biggest trading partner – and our biggest competitor for investment and jobs – is not going to have one."
Provincial carbon-pricing plans in Alberta, Quebec and Ontario give a break to energy-intensive corporations that face international competition in order to reduce competitiveness concerns. Ms. McKenna noted some 30 Canadian corporations – including Alberta-based energy companies such as Suncor Energy Inc., TransCanada Corp. and Atco Ltd. – support carbon pricing.
"They recognize that pricing pollution is the best way to reduce emissions," she said. "It's the cheapest way to reduce emissions and foster innovation. So we're moving forward with the entire world.
Canada faced some criticism in Marrakesh from its own youth delegates and environmental economists who questioned the federal government's approval of new fossil-fuel infrastructure such as liquified natural gas export terminals, and the prospect of its approval for expanded pipelines capacity to move oil sands crude to markets in the U.S. and Asia.
Ms. McKenna said the transition to a lower-carbon economy is in full swing but will take time to accomplish.
"We are in period of transition; the world knows that," she said. "We know we need to do more but it is not going to be overnight."