Trudeau ends First Ministers' Conference with "Vancouver Declaration" on clean growth

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended his second First Ministers’ Conference meeting with Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial premiers by producing a national roadmap to fight climate change.

The outcome of the nation’s leaders’ day-long meeting on the top floor of the West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre was the “Vancouver Declaration”. The agreement between the federal government and all provincial and territorial governments provides a framework for the next steps Canada will take towards creating an action plan that meets or exceeds Canada’s international emissions targets while also creating new economic opportunities through sustainable and clean growth.

While the original intention for the Vancouver meeting was to come out with a new national target to reduce greenhouse gases, to replace the target set by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, the leaders were able to agree in principle on including carbon pricing in any climate change action plan.

But carbon pricing implementation will be regionalized to account for existing provincial programs, such as British Columbia’s carbon tax and Ontario and Quebec’s cap and trade systems.

“The agreement as spelled out in the declaration, that the transition to a low-carbon economy will happen by a broad suite of measures that will include pricing carbon,” said Trudeau during a press conference today. “That is something that we have all committed to.”

A day earlier at the opening session of the GLOBE Conference in Vancouver, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said her government is considering raising the carbon tax, stressing that it could be tax neutral by untaxing other things. She said that B.C.’s carbon tax should be a model for the rest of Canada.

The Prime Minister also noted today that the leaders will work to ratify and implement the Paris Agreement agreed by world nations last year.

“This year, we will also work to sign and ratify the Paris agreement,” he said said. “In addition, my government intends to present to the United Nations a plan that is firmly rooted in collaboration and consultation and represents all of Canada.”

“To achieve our goals, we will build on the actions taken by provinces and territories and will identify additional measures that all governments can take to achieve economic growth and emission reduction objectives over the longer term.”

Four working groups will be created to determine how different jurisdictions will perform under the following areas: clean technology, innovation, and jobs; carbon pricing mechanisms adapted to each province’s and territory’s specific circumstances and in particular the realities of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and Arctic and sub-Arctic regions; specific mitigation opportunities; and, adaptation and climate resilience.

The working groups will submit their reports, which will be made public, ahead of the next First Ministers’ Conference this fall.

In Vancouver, Trudeau reiterated his plan to provide tens of billions in federal funding for new green infrastructure across the country. He will also work with provinces to expedite existing infrastructure projects.

“For its part, the government of has committed to supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation through investments in green infrastructure, public transit, and energy-efficient social infrastructure,” said Trudeau during a press conference.

“We have committed to working together with the provinces and territories on how to best lever federal investments into the low carbon economy fund, to realize incremental emissions reductions, to working with other governments and the private sector to advance the electrification of vehicle transportation, and fostering dialogue and the development of regional plans for clean energy transmission.

Trudeau’s next major meeting will be with outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday, March 10 in the Oval Office at the White House. Both leaders are expected to sign a continental environment and climate change strategy.

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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