Feds quietly canvass provinces for climate change measures ahead of Paris talks

Canada’s contribution to a major United Nations climate change conference later this year will be heavily dependent on actions by provincial and territorial governments.

OTTAWA — Canada’s contribution to a major United Nations climate change conference later this year will be heavily dependent on actions by provincial and territorial governments.

Provincial governments confirm Environment Canada has been collecting greenhouse-gas reduction measures from across the country as the federal government works toward an end-of-March deadline to ante up for the summit in Paris.

“Canada is actively preparing its intended nationally determined contribution,” a spokesman for Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a recent email.

“As this is a national contribution, the provinces and territories hold many levers for taking action on emissions, so the minister is seeking feedback from her counterparts on how initiatives in their jurisdictions will factor into Canada’s overall commitment.”

Aglukkaq would not agree to an interview on the subject over the last month and her office provided no additional details. Nor is it yet certain the federal government will meet the March 31 deadline set by the Paris conference organizers.

But with the Conservatives under pressure for refusing to regulate the oil and gas sector — the country’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions — federal-provincial co-operation may be Ottawa’s only way to save face on the world stage.

Countries participating in COP21, as December’s UN climate conference is known, have been asked to relay their “intended nationally determined contributions” this month. These will serve as a starting point for negotiations that are supposed to conclude with a successor to the 2009 Copenhagen Accord.

Under the Copenhagen agreement, the Harper government committed Canada to cut greenhouse gas emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2020 — a national target even Environment Canada has concluded won’t be met.

However, some of Canada’s biggest provinces are meeting or exceeding their own goals for GHG reductions and are increasingly taking matters into their own hands.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was in France this week where French President Francois Hollande publicly stated he would “ensure that Quebec is not only present, but also that it has the opportunity to make its voice heard,” at the climate conference.

There’s been “a real shift in where the energy is,” ever since B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec were among a group of subnational governments who met on the sidelines of a climate conference in Lima, Peru, last December, said Glen Murray, Ontario’s minister of environment and climate change.

The premiers will meet next month in Quebec City at the invitation of Couillard to discuss climate change and a national energy strategy.

A wider group of sub-nationals, including California and several New England states, will meet in July in Toronto, where they hope participants from across the Americas can agree on an 80-per-cent GHG reduction target from 1990 levels by the year 2050.

“At the national level what we are hoping — and I think minister Aglukkaq has opened up the door to this now — is that those provincial priorities and plans become reflected in Canada’s contribution,” for Paris, Murray said in an interview.

David Heurtel, Quebec’s minister for sustainable development, environment and climate change, said international climate deals can’t be “coming from the top down.”

“What we are hoping, and what we’ve demanded, is that the provincial processes already in place … that these not only be taken into consideration by the federal government but also that we work collectively,” in setting Canada’s contribution for the next global climate treaty, Heurtel said in an interview Tuesday.

Heurtel added it is important that Ottawa put its own “concrete measures” into the provincial mix when Canada submits its pre-conference pledge.

The unstated federal role appears not unlike the proposition put forward by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who says he won’t impose a national carbon-pricing scheme but will instead encourage provinces to develop their own policies.

Murray argues the experience of the failed Kyoto and Copenhagen negotiations suggests new voices and new leverage are required for COP21 to make meaningful change.

“After 20 years of Council-Of-the-Parties meetings, a lot of us do not think that our national governments will deliver an agreement or — after several tries, and actually several agreements that didn’t amount to any action — are capable of doing this,” said Murray.

“My belief very strongly is that it will be subnational governments and corporations and the NGO community that will deliver this.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) falls on his knees as he skates around Ottawa Senators defenceman Artem Zub (2) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, February 18, 2021. The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews when they take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto star Auston Matthews won’t play as Leafs face Oilers

EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

The Magpie river in Quebec is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boreal River MANDATORY CREDIT
Quebec river granted legal rights as part of global ‘personhood’ movement

MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Most Read