Environmentalists cheered when Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, rode a wave of popularity to the position last fall, replacing the pro-tar sands, anti-carbon regulation Steven Harper. Now, Trudeau is preparing for his first state visit to Washington, D.C., where the Prime Minister and President Obama are set to discuss climate change and trade next week.
Expectations are already high.
The Canadian trade minister told Canada’s Globe and Mail last week that she expects significant progress on several key issues between the two countries.
“The visit is still coming together but I am very hopeful there will be some real accomplishments on the environment and climate change,” Chrystia Freeland told the paper. “We are still 10 days away and negotiations are very intense right now and I am not going to get ahead of where negotiators are.”
The White House is undoubtedly looking forward to coming to terms with Canada on climate. While the Obama Administration has negotiated for impressive commitments from China and India on addressing climate change, the relationship with its northern neighbor has been more strained. At one point, Harper wrote a letter to Obama suggesting that if the United States approved the Keystone XL project, Canada would offer “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.” The offer was not accepted.
In another telling exchange, during Obama’s September visit to Alaska to highlight climate issues, Canada’s then-foreign minister skipped an international climate summit.
“Any leader willing to take a gamble on a future like that, any leader who refuses to take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke is not fit to lead,” Obama said at the time.
Canadian voters appeared to agree with the American president. Climate change was a key issue during the elections just a month later.
And under Trudeau, the government has certainly pivoted. On Thursday, provincial premiers met with the administration to talk about energy and climate issues. The meeting is the result of an electoral promise to meet with the local leaders 90 days after the Paris climate talks to discuss a way forward…
by Samantha Page