Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Pledge for Deep Carbon Cuts Pressures Canada Ahead of UN Climate Summit

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Pledge for Deep Carbon Cuts Pressures Canada Ahead of UN Climate Summit

Article excerpt

Steep U.S. carbon cuts put pressure on Canada


OTTAWA - A formal American pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 per cent over the next decade is shining a discomfiting spotlight on the Canadian government.

The United States was one of a handful of countries to meet Tuesday's March 31 target for submitting emissions reduction pledges ahead of next December's United Nations climate summit in Paris, known as COP21.

But after two decades of Canadian governments loudly asserting that a continental approach to climate targets is critical to North America's integrated economies, the silence from Ottawa on this year's global climate conference has been deafening.

Under NDP questioning in the House of Commons, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said she welcomed the aggressive U.S. targets, but didn't commit to match them.

"We have always said to effectively reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, all major emitters must be on board," Aglukkaq said.

Rather than common Canada-U.S. emissions targets, a spokesman for the minister later said in an email: "The government has been clear that the integration between our two economies means that the United States and Canada should co-ordinate on regulatory approaches where appropriate."

The U.S. proposal has drawn intense interest around the world. The White House hopes to increase pressure on other countries to announce equally ambitious goals.

Most countries missed Tuesday's informal UN deadline. The European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico and Russia have also submitted contribution targets to date.

Nonetheless, New Democrat Megan Leslie accused the Harper government of acting like "the worst student in the class" by failing to produce a Paris target this week.

"We will submit Canada's greenhouse gas emissions targets in the weeks ahead and we are seeking information from the provinces and the territories on how they will meet their targets," Aglukkaq responded.

At least one province, however, is unhappy with the current federal consultations.

David Heurtel, Quebec's environment minister, said in an interview that he has been rebuffed in his efforts to get a meeting with Aglukkaq to discuss the Paris targets. …

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