Canada, California to partner on climate action and nature protection

Canada and California are kindred progressive spirits on climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday as he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a new blueprint for working together to stave off the worst consequences of a warming planet.

The framework signed by Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Environmental Protection Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, their respective bosses standing behind them, includes modest expansions on a similar 2019 agreement.

It also advances policy and regulatory steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants in both jurisdictions, as well as conservation measures and dealing with the worsening threat of wildfires.

And it will stand the test of time, Newsom said – regardless of who is in power in the California governor's mansion, the White House or the Prime Minister's Office.

California is a $3.3-trillion a year economy, he said – the fifth-largest in the world, and a “stable partner” whose efforts to address climate issues and pollution standards have been influencing other states and countries, including Canada, for decades.

“We punch above our weight,'' Newsom said, describing the state as a “stable partner” whose regulatory reforms have stood the test of time and the political whims of the electorate.

“We carry a lot of weight as it relates to low-carbon green growth, as it relates to efforts to change the way we produce and consume energy – regardless of who's in the White House.''

Trudeau said Canada will always find favour with a partner that's willing to make progress on issues of shared significance.

“Canada has always been a country that engages in the world, and whether it's engaging with like-minded countries or like-minded states like California, we're just there to get things done,'' Trudeau said.

“When we find alignment on so many things – as we always have with California, but as we specifically have under Gavin Newsom's administration – we jump on it.''

Trudeau delivered an impassioned defence of his government's efforts to rebrand Canada, a country economically dependent on its fossil-fuel resources, as a champion of tackling climate change.

It's precisely because of that reputation as an oil-producing nation that Canada has extra credibility on climate issues, Trudeau said.

“Moving forward on climate change is really hard for us. We have a thriving fossil fuel industry in our country at a time where the world continues to run on fossil fuels and will for a number more years,'' he said.

“The fact that we have that means it's all the more important for us to step up and show real leadership on fighting climate change, and that's exactly what we've done.''

Guilbeault later described taking part in a Summit of the Americas meeting to document progress on the Global Methane Pledge, an international effort to target one of the most powerful greenhouse gases.

Canada has committed to reducing methane emissions, which can be between 20 to 80 per cent worse for the atmosphere than CO2, by 30 per cent by 2030, Guilbeault said.

“We can get a big bang for our buck in terms of emissions reduction and in terms of preventing increases in temperatures,'' he said.

“If we reduce global emissions of methane by 30 per cent between now and 2030, it's 0.5 C that we're basically sucking out of the atmosphere. Less warming means less climate change.''

The federal government's official readout of the meeting mentioned their mutual support of Ukraine in its fight against Russia, and that Trudeau also brought up Canada's support for NATO and the plan to modernize the continental defence system known as Norad.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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