Catherine McKenna insists Ottawa will stick with plan on climate change despite Trump win

While U.S. president-elect Donald Trump this week said he’s keeping “an open mind” on climate change, despite earlier having called the notion a “hoax,” Canada is forging ahead with its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put a price on carbon.

In an interview with CBC’s The House, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna downplayed concerns that a Trump presidency will negatively impact Canada-U.S. co-operation on the environment.

Speaking to the New York Times earlier this week, Trump said he would “keep an open mind” about the Paris accord, which he has repeatedly said he planned to either renegotiate or cancel if elected. It’s a significant shift from Trump’s past statements that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing less competitive

“You saw positive comments from Donald Trump,” McKenna told host Chris Hall.

“He said he just wanted to make sure that policies were competitive, didn’t impact on the U.S. competitiveness — I think about that all the time with the policies that we are looking at,” she said.

“It’s about competitiveness. It’s about creating jobs. It’s about making investments to grow the economy … I know those are what the next administration is looking for.”

‘Moving forward’ on emissions

McKenna’s statements come just days after 60 leading business, labour and environmental groups urged the federal government to hold the course in its fight against climate change — and the minister appears to be doing just that.

After announcing plans earlier this week to accelerate the phase-out of coal-fired electricity across Canada, McKenna said the federal government will also work with provinces and territories to develop a clean fuel standard.

While the details still need to be ironed out, McKenna said it’s just one way the federal government is taking action to reduce emissions.

“We’re not lurching,” she said. “We’re moving forward.”

Doing nothing is ‘not viable’

In order to meet the goals of the Paris climate change agreement, Canada must cut its emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“There will always be people that think that we’re moving too slowly, that we should get out of fossil fuels overnight, which is just not possible. We need to turn the lights on,” McKenna told host Hall. “And there are people who want to do nothing and just think we’ll be on fossil fuels forever. And that’s clearly also not viable.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to meet with the provincial and territorial premiers in Ottawa in early December to finalize plans to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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