Toronto Star

Grits to offer incentive for climate change plans

Environmen­t minister says Canada needs ambitious goal on greenhouse gas reduction

- JOANNA SMITH OTTAWA BUREAU

OTTAWA— The Liberal government will use both a carrot and a stick to ensure provinces come up with solid plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions following a major internatio­nal climate change, says the new federal environmen­t minister.

“We will be creating incentives and also disincenti­ves if you do not come up with a credible plan,” Environmen­t Minister Catherine McKenna told the Star on Friday when asked whether the federal government was prepared to bring in legislatio­n to enforce a national greenhouse gas reduction target if an agreement reached at the Paris Climate Conference does not end up being legally binding.

“What that is going to look like, we are still working out and that will be part of the hard work we are going to do within 90 days of Paris,” McKenna said. The conference runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invited the provincial and territoria­l premiers to gather in Ottawa Monday to discuss their strategy going into the United Nations climate change conference, where Canada will push for an agreement that aims to stop global temperatur­es rising more than 2 degrees Cabove what it was in the pre-industrial era.

Canada is not going into the meeting with a new national carbonemis­sions target — choosing instead to work with the target set by the previous Conservati­ve government, which was to reduce emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which McKenna called “a starting point” — but plans to hammer one out with the provinces after everyone comes home.

“We have said that this is going to take time and I’ve tried to be very clear that it is not just about a target. A target is very important and we need an ambitious target — Canada needs to be doing its part — but also we need practical measures,” Mc- Kenna said.

The federal government has promised to let provinces figure out how they can each do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially taking into account the carbon-pricing schemes that already exist in British Columbia and Quebec and will be introduced to Ontario in 2017.

The Alberta government is expected to unveil its own climate-change plan Sunday.

“While I do think we need to support the provinces to ensure that every province is doing their part, exactly what mechanisms they use is really up to them, because they have a much better idea of what practical measures can be taken and also how you need to balance the economic imperative with the environmen­tal imperative,” said McKenna.

The Liberals have promised to create a $2-billion Low Carbon Economy Trust to help provincial and territoria­l government­s achieve their targets, but it remains to be seen how the money will be divvied up.

Provinces like Ontario and Quebec are ahead of others in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and want that to be recognized.

“The fact that we have very low emissions tells that we have already taken the low-hanging fruit and what is ahead of us is going to be extremely difficult,” Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said at the Canada 2020 policy conference in Ottawa Friday, when he appeared on a panel about climate change alongside Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“Electricit­y production for us is not social innovation anymore. So we are going to do the transport sector and it becomes much more difficult to achieve significan­t results,” said Couillard. McKenna said she welcomed com- petition between the provinces.

“I think competitio­n is a good thing and I look forward to seeing the plans from all of the provinces on how they can move towards a lowcarbon economy and we’ll base our decision on how we can achieve that goal and where support is needed most,” McKenna said.

Wynne acknowledg­ed there would be competitio­n between provinces for a slice of that federal money, but hopes they can all keep their eye on the bigger goal.

“At this moment, when all of our population­s are so anxious about climate change, they are looking to us to say we can solve this problem, we can actually find a way through this,” said Wynne.

“Our population­s are so anxious about climate change, they are looking to us to say we can solve this problem, we can actually find a way through this.”

KATHLEEN WYNNE

 ?? SEAN KILPATRICK/THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratula­tes Environmen­t and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna during the cabinet swearing-in ceremony.
SEAN KILPATRICK/THE CANADIAN PRESS Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratula­tes Environmen­t and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna during the cabinet swearing-in ceremony.

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