Why Justin Trudeau's Election Is Good News for the Fight Against Climate Change – TIME
Trudeau’s predecessor Stephen Harper was a climate change skeptic. But the new prime minister brings a different attitude
For years, climate change activists have criticized the Canadian government as a global warming laggard. The Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been in power since 2006, has never taken climate change seriously. When Canada failed to meet carbon cuts set in the Kyoto Protocol—a treaty Canada signed and ratified under a previous government—Harper simply withdrew his country.
But the surprise election of Justin Trudeau yesterday promises to change that perception. The Liberal Party leader emphasized the very real danger of climate change and pledged his support for what he called a “pan-Canadian” approach to the issue. “In 2015, pretending that we have to choose between the economy and the environment is as harmful as it is wrong,” he said in a speech earlier this year.
Even with a resounding win, however, it may provide surprisingly difficult for new Prime Minister Trudeau to enacting strong environmental and energy policy at the federal level in Canada. Control over Canadian environmental and energy policy rests largely with the country’s powerful provincial leaders. Indeed, the country explicitly leaves authority over natural resource management to the provinces. And many Canadians still recall an ill-fated attempt in the 1980s by the federal government to grab a larger share of the profits from energy resources in individual provinces. That program was championed by none other then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father.
“Provinces have enormous authority in so many areas and there are huge regional differences on this issues,” said Barry Rabe, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. “Canadians have struggled mightily to put together a federal policy that address emissions.”
Read More: Why Restoring Nature Could Be the Key to Fighting Climate Change
For these reasons, Trudeau appears keen on implementing a carbon pricing scheme that would set targets for emissions reductions at the federal level and allow for provinces to design programs independently to meet those goals. The program, which still needs to be fleshed out, might bear some similarity to the President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, said Rabe, which sets emissions reductions standards for each state based on its current energy sources.
Relying on sub-national governments to act also makes sense given what …Read More
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