The ambitious and progressive plan announced this week by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria is good news for Canada and the planet, according to experts who have studied the plan.
“This can really be viewed as a huge opportunity because what this will do is catalyze more action already underway. … Canada’s corporate community will want to be included because it’s best for Canada. So that’s the immediate, positive effect,” said Jill Cronin, professor emeritus of economics at the University of British Columbia.
The plan is aimed at helping to achieve the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
One of the ways the plan intends to fight rising temperatures is by forcing countries to own their greenhouse gas emissions and to generate carbon emissions certificates. In addition, corporations would be forced to seek out other countries to buy their credits.
In addition, Canada’s electric vehicles market will be bolstered by expanding subsidies for companies to be manufacturers and the sale of vehicle credits from Europe. The plan would also contribute to lowering electricity rates for homes by investing in renewable energy, providing financial incentives to do so and in negotiating with manufacturers to phase out fossil fuel-fired electricity generation at plants that serve consumers.
The plan also calls for Canada to double the amount of electric vehicles it produces and significantly increase their coverage by 2025.
The plan sets ambitious guidelines for businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through an ongoing review of greenhouse gas compliance options with emissions from buildings, vehicles, industrial emissions and agriculture. It also calls for identifying Canada’s “worst polluters” and appointing industry-led teams to design solutions for reducing emissions.
“Now that Canada has decided that it wants to do something about this problem, and has realized it’s a moral problem and is acting to do something about it, I think there are some other things that other countries and some other industries need to come on board with or make specific changes so that we can make in Canada much more effective,” Cronin said.
Rachel Whiteread, who has a Master’s degree in political science, said Trudeau and Gurria made a smart choice to take the lead in the developed world on climate change policy because “most other industrialized countries have done nothing” in recent years.
“It’s now time to lead,” Whiteread said. “This is where Trudeau is the president of the G-7. He’s the president of a large middle power.”
Gregory Wilton, president of the Canadian Clean Air Council, said the plan will give momentum to “greener” policies being implemented across Canada.
“We’ve already had the aggressive targets,” Wilton said. “And now there’s an accountability issue for moving from a population model to emission targets in order to ensure they’re effective.”
“Rather than coming out with a total shooting down of the carbon pollution scheme of the Québec provincial government and creating some kind of regulatory uncertainty, [Trudeau] decided that we’re going to focus the policies now on the provinces who are most committed to this and the federal policy on what we call key issues,” he added.
“This will take some tough politics [but] I think Trudeau knew that this was a political risk.”
As a result of efforts initiated by Trudeau, Canada has taken out almost all the coal plant in the country as a way to curb carbon pollution. Last year, Trudeau made Canada the first industrialized country to approve the controversial and environmental unfriendly Keystone XL Pipeline.
“This is a progressive thing,” said John Kerry, the Secretary of State at the time. “If you look at the US of A going back decades, they were the ones who refused to ratify the [international] deal, because of the issues of corruption, but at least there was some legitimacy. And I’m not prepared to make that mistake in Canada.”