Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new government is touting the role it can play in fostering support for a climate-change agreement at this week's Commonwealth summit and at upcoming talks in Paris.
It is, undoubtedly, a change from the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper, which never saw pushing for a global climate-change deal as its mission in the world. But it's a rush into climate diplomacy for a new government that still has only half a climate-change policy – with no new emissions targets and as yet no concrete plan to reach them.
Mr. Trudeau has been on a summit-to-summit mission to rewrite the narrative of Canada's place in the world. His government has obviously dramatically shifted Canada's international stand on climate change and taken on a role as an international promoter of a deal in Paris. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion is in Malta with the PM at the Commonwealth conference, pushing counterparts from other countries to take a stronger position. Mr. Trudeau has insisted other leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have asked him to do that.
That might not seem obvious. The Commonwealth, the 53-nation club that essentially includes former British colonies, is not known for making firm, unified stands on policy issues. But it's a big club of diverse countries meeting just before the global climate negotiations in Paris.
The host of those talks, French President François Hollande, will speak to Commonwealth leaders on Friday at a special session on climate change – the first French president ever to address a Commonwealth summit.
"I would say it's a very helpful training camp for Paris," Mr. Dion said. "Because you have countries that are small, countries that are big, countries that are developed, countries that are underdeveloped, countries that are emerging. You have the world in 53 nations here."
It won't be a determinant. One of the big players at the Paris talks is India, which has pledged a move to more renewable energy, but it is still planning to dramatically expand the use of fossil fuels such as coal as domestic demand for power booms in the growing, economically expanding country. But Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not at the Commonwealth summit and has sent ministers instead.
There are also other players, such as Australia, which has presented emissions-reduction targets that activists and some other countries consider unambitious, and which is led by new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
After Mr. Trudeau made his debut on the world stage two weeks ago, attending back-to-back summits of the G20 in Turkey and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group in the Philippines, he's been working hard to build a new narrative for Canada's place in the world – or at least a rewrite of old Liberal foreign policy.
In London on Wednesday, he delivered a speech at the Canadian high commission that touted Canada's embrace of diverse cultures, and welcome for immigrants and refugees, as an example to the world.
And in Malta and Paris, his government will be stressing its role in climate diplomacy. Clearly, his appearance at the leaders' event for the opening of the Paris talks next week, accompanied by several premiers, is supposed to be a symbol of change for the Canadian government – even if it won't propose new emissions-reduction targets and will stick with those submitted by Mr. Harper's Conservative government.
The new Prime Minister has moved quickly to take an active role in climate diplomacy, even before he's been able to strike a deal with provinces to forge a policy at home.