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paris climate talks

European Council President Donald Tusk (left) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right) listen as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes some opening remarks before a bilateral meeting at the United Nations climate change summit Monday, November 30, 2015 in Le Bourget, France.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Justin Trudeau is in Paris telling world leaders Canada is now serious about fighting climate change – and now he's also telling Canadians they should do what they can to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

In Paris for the COP 21 talks aimed at reaching a new global deal on combatting climate change, the Prime Minister has announced his government will put money into clean technology, and touted a dramatic shift in the Canadian government's approach to the issue.

And he argued broader, national action can, and should, encourage individuals to reconsider their own lifestyles.

"People want to do more. But they want to know that what they are doing fits into a bigger picture," Mr. Trudeau said at a press conference during the talks. He said he thinks Canadians often feel like there's no point in taking action if there's no bigger effort that will have an overall impact on the planet.

"There can be no laggards in this. We all need to work together in ways that suit our local economies and our lifestyles. But yes, every single one of us can and should be much more conscious of the ways we can act to reduce our carbon footprint, to have a greater impact on protecting the environment going forward."

The United-Nations-sponsored global talks opened Monday with roughly 150 world leaders in attendance, and many, such as U.S. President Barack Obama, warning action must come soon.

Mr. Trudeau has arrived having just pledged $2.65-billion over five years to help developing nations reduce emissions. And on Monday, he joined a 20-nation initiative led by Mr. Obama to double the amount of public-sector funds into clean-technology research.

The Mission Innovation initiative will see the countries, including the United States, China, India, Britain and France, double their own spending to develop clean technologies.

At the same time, a group of major global private-sector investors, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma, Tata group's Ratan Tata and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are promising to make private-sector capital available.

The Canadian government's part will be to add $300-million to clean technology development – a Liberal election-platform plank that Mr. Trudeau promised in the recent election campaign.

That will include $100-million a year to be put into green-technology producers "and tackling Canada's most pressing environmental challenges," the government said in a press release, and $200-million per year to support the use of clean technology in the natural resources sector.

Expanding clean-technology investment is a key issue for several countries like the U.S., who are keen to show green jobs can be created and that new technology, rather than consumer sacrifices, will be a part of the solution for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has expressed concern that energy-sector jobs in his province could be hurt by the new federal government's climate-change plans, indicated he wants to see his province get credit for investments in carbon capture and storage technology for the coal industry through a project in Weyburn, Sask.

That's technology that would capture emissions for the burning of coal – but it has proven difficult to develop on a large scale at competitive costs.

"I hope we're going to be getting some credit for what we think is the largest capital investment in technology that will mitigate carbon," Mr. Wall said at the site of talks in Paris.

"There's about a thousand coal plants on the books around the world … so if we're serious about climate change, and doing something about climate change, Canada can actually have a big vision of contributing technology that will help clean up the transition energies like coal. So we're hoping to get credit for that from any new federal program."

But the new PM also came to Paris with the same emissions-reduction targets set by his Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper, and a commitment to convene talks with provinces within 90 days to work on a plan to reach them. And in a press conference, he was unwilling to say when that plan will be in place.

Mr. Trudeau noted that there is progress, pointing to the actions that provinces are taking to impose a price on carbon, either through carbon taxes or joining cap-and-trade systems, noting Alberta recently announced its own carbon-tax plan and cap on oilsands emissions.

But to meet even the targets set by Mr. Harper, there will have to be more action. Mr. Trudeau argued he has already outlined several elements of a national plan, including spending $20-billion on green infrastructure. "We have started putting in place elements for that plan," he said.