EU calls on Canada to defend Paris climate accord against global ‘uncertainties’

EU calls on Canada to defend Paris accord

OTTAWA — The European Union’s environment commissioner is making a noisy pitch about joining forces with Canada to fight to preserve the Paris climate change accord in the face of “geopolitical uncertainties.”

EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, but his statement Thursday prior to his arrival in Ottawa seemed squarely aimed at the U.S. president.

Canete is to meet with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who has kept a noticeably lower profile on Canada-U.S. relations since Trump’s victory in November.

Trump has famously described climate change as a hoax, though some of the cabinet appointees have recently testified during their confirmation hearings that they don’t share that view.

And his newly installed energy secretary, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, once said during his own bid for the Republican nomination that he would eliminate the very department of which he now in charge.

Perry has since said he would work to develop American energy in all forms, including oil and gas as well as renewables such as wind and solar. He has also disavowed his 2011 talk of dissolving the Energy Department.

Canete issued a statement earlier Thursday saying the EU and Canada “are determined to implement the Paris Agreement” and boost the global transition to clean energy.

“Given the current geopolitical uncertainties, our co-operation is more crucial than ever,” he said, adding Canada and the EU view tackling climate change as a “significant drivers of job creation, investment opportunities and growth.”

Standing next to Donald Trump in Washington last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made no mention of the 2015 Paris Accord that he helped negotiate with Barack Obama. Instead he chose to highlight the more obscure 1991 Air Quality Agreement.

Meanwhile, as a steady stream of Liberal cabinet ministers have descended on Washington in recent months to forge links with the incoming Trump administration, McKenna has been noticeably absent until recently.

She did take part Wednesday in a phone call with her U.S. counterpart, Scott Pruitt, the newly appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A readout of that call said McKenna “emphasized Canada’s commitment to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement, address climate change, and to take advantage of the economic opportunity offered by the global market shift toward clean growth.”

After their meeting, Trudeau and Trump issued a joint declaration that stressed a renewed commitment to enhance energy co-operation in the Great Lakes border region and on energy projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline.

European officials have made no secret of their disdain for Trump’s anti-environmental rhetoric.

When the Canada-EU free trade deal was recently ratified by the European Parliament, the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Canada and the EU “share the democratic values of tolerance and openness.”

“We co-operate in tackling common challenges such as migration, sustainable development, climate change and terrorism,” Malmstrom said.

Werner Hoyer, the president of the European Investment Bank, told a Brussels news conference in January that Europeans “must lead the world against climate change skeptics.”

— With files from the Associated Press

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

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