U.S.-China climate deal pushes Canada to keep pace with largest trading partner

Canadian policy-makers can expect to come under intense pressure now that the United States and China have reached a ground-breaking agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

OTTAWA — Canadian policy-makers can expect to come under intense pressure now that the United States and China have reached a ground-breaking agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Conservative government in Ottawa has long argued that curbing Canada’s relatively paltry emissions on the global scale was not a priority when major emitters were unwilling to act.

Regulation of the oil and gas sector has been promised — and delayed — for years, even as the country falls well behind on its international commitment to curb emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2020.

The surprise announcement from U.S. President Barack Obama in Beijing commits Canada’s dominant trading partner to even deeper emissions cuts by 2025.

David McLaughlin, the former head of the federal Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, says the bedrock of federal climate policy has always been alignment with Washington — but Canada is now clearly falling behind.

Environmental groups say Canada has run out of excuses for its inaction on emissions, while China’s new commitment to renewable energy means Canada could miss out on a global economic boom in clean technology.