New federal environment minister says his climate plan is not a ‘secret agenda’

OTTAWA — Newly minted Surroundings Minister Steven Guilbeault mentioned Wednesday there may be nothing “actually new“ within the political rhetoric between Alberta and Ottawa round local weather change this week, and shrugged off any suggestion his appointment will make that relationship harder than it already is.

Guilbeault is a former environmental activist from Quebec who has known as the oilsands “soiled” and argued that pipelines and oil and gasoline growth aren’t suitable with assembly Canada’s local weather targets.

Elected in 2019, he was appointed to cupboard however to not the setting publish many anticipated. As an alternative, he spent the final two years as minister of heritage whereas former cleantech CEO Jonathan Wilkinson shepherded by means of net-zero local weather laws and stronger greenhouse gasoline targets within the Surroundings Division.

There was speak in 2019 that Guilbeault’s appointment would have rubbed salt within the open sore that was the Ottawa-Alberta relationship. However that every one modified Tuesday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau majorly shook up his interior circle, shifting Wilkinson to Pure Sources and Guilbeault into Surroundings.

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It was not, Guilbeault insists, at his demand.

“I used to be by no means promised something and I by no means requested for something both,” he mentioned in an interview with The Canadian Press.

However rub salt within the wound it has, with Conservative MPs vital of the choice and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney warning that Guilbeault’s appointment to the setting portfolio despatched a “problematic message” to his province about Ottawa’s plans for the oil and gasoline sector. He known as Guilbeault’s “private background and observe report” on local weather and oil and gasoline regarding.

Guilbeault dismissed any suggestion he’ll make the job of Ottawa-Alberta relations extra thorny, pushing again together with his personal criticism of Kenney for skipping the United Nations COP26 local weather talks that begin subsequent week in Scotland.

“I’m disillusioned that Jason Kenney received’t be in Glasgow, different premiers might be there,” he mentioned in a post-cabinet scrum Wednesday.

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And he mentioned Kenney utilizing his appointment to select a combat with Ottawa on local weather motion is simply new lyrics to the identical previous track.

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“Alberta has been attempting to select a combat with us on local weather for fairly a while,” he informed The Canadian Press.

“They’ve taken us to courtroom on carbon pricing, they’re taking us to courtroom on environmental affect evaluation. There’s nothing actually new or stunning about that.”

Canada’s local weather plan additionally isn’t altering with him in cost, mentioned Guilbeault, noting it was not secret earlier than and it’s not secret now that the plan is to curb emissions from each sector, together with oil and gasoline.

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Amongst his first priorities might be legislating or regulating an emissions cap on oil and gasoline, after which setting targets to drive them downward over the following 30 years, in five-year increments.

The main points of how and when are but to be developed however Guilbeault mentioned Wednesday the cap might be set at “present emissions” and go down from there.

The oil and gasoline business produced virtually 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2019, greater than one-quarter of Canada’s complete emissions. Catherine Abreu, govt director of Vacation spot Zero, mentioned local weather motion received’t achieve success with out getting these down.

She mentioned the political will to do it has not been there earlier than.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has as a substitute tried to stability help for the fossil gasoline sector with local weather coverage, with out a lot success. Canada’s emissions are probably decrease than they’d have been with out Trudeau’s local weather insurance policies, however they’re nonetheless about seven million tonnes increased than they had been when he took workplace.

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Nearly all of that progress is because of oil and gasoline extraction and street transportation.

Guilbeault’s first job might be to promote Canada’s local weather plan on the worldwide stage. On Monday, the United Nations COP26 local weather talks kick off in Glasgow.

Guilbeault isn’t any stranger to COP conferences — this might be his nineteenth. Nevertheless it’s his first from the federal government aspect of the desk. He mentioned Canada, like everybody else on the planet, must do extra to gradual international warming, and that’s the message Canada might be pushing in Scotland.

The COP26 conferences, delayed one yr by COVID-19, are meant to finalize the rule ebook for the Paris accord, together with on such issues as how carbon emissions buying and selling can work between nations, and what every nation has to report about progress towards local weather targets.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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