‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Canada’s environment minister said she’s no “quitter” despite calls Wednesday from David Suzuki for her to resign and a G7 meeting that didn’t shift her American counterpart’s firm opposition to the Paris climate agreement.

Catherine McKenna had started off the three-day Halifax gathering by telling a personal story of encountering young people in the Arctic who are worried local hunters are falling through the ice due to rising temperatures.

“They’re worried about whether we’re going to do anything about it, because they don’t feel empowered to do anything about it,” she told the delegates, after reminding them of a summer that has seen massive forest fires and deadly hurricanes.

The minister also spoke of translating the targets of the Paris climate agreement into action and said countries need to firm up rules around how the carbon emission targets will be enforceable.

But by day’s end, she’d faced calls from Canada’s most prominent environmentalist to leave her job due to the prime minister’s support of the fossil fuel industry.

The French environment minister recently took that route, saying he didn’t want to create the illusion his presence in the government was leading to progress on climate change.

In a story published by La Presse, David Suzuki says if McKenna really believes what she’s saying, she too should quit “instead of being an apologist for the government.”

He told the Montreal-based news site that Canada lacks credibility on climate change, with the Liberal government supporting the construction of a pipeline to the British Columbia coast to transport Alberta bitumen.

Suzuki made the comments in the context of an interview about the resignation of French environment minister, Nicolas Hulot.

“She must stop rationalizing what Canada is doing,” Suzuki told La Presse, adding that the government “talks out both sides of its mouth.”

“We have a prime minister who signed (the Paris climate accord), who says, ‘We’re back,’ and we all praised him … then he approves pipelines! What is that?”

McKenna defended herself in an evening news conference, arguing it’s easy to be divisive but difficult to continue battling for progress on climate change in a country dependent on resource industries.

“I’m not a quitter. Resigning is easy. It’s really hard to do what we’re doing. This is a long-term transition to a cleaner future.”

“I’m going to stay in this job as long as the prime minister keeps me here.”

Meanwhile, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, said little in public during the meeting.

After the gathering, he said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the administration of President Donald Trump continues to be opposed to the Paris agreement.

“The Paris accord we didn’t think was fair to the United States, but we are taking a serious look at our carbon emissions,” he said.

Regarding climate change itself, Wheeler said: “I believe climate change is real. I believe that man has an impact on it. It’s still a question to what extent and what we can do about it.”

Wheeler said the United States is taking a “different approach” than its G7 counterparts, but still is looking to reduce carbon and can talk about other environmental issues with the gathered G7 ministers and invited nations.

He also defended the Trump administration’s support of the coal industry in the United States, despite the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal.

“Worldwide coal usage is going to go up. China is increasing, India is increasing. Worldwide coal usage is going to go up, and what we want to make sure is we’re producing the cleaner technologies for export to other countries,” said Wheeler.

When McKenna was asked about the challenge of working with the Americans she responded that discussions had been productive and “frank.”

“The United States has taken a different position on the Paris agreement. That’s well known,” she said.

She added that the delegates were still able to discuss how to reduce harmful emissions in the air and what “adaptation” is needed to prepare for the flooding, storms and rising sea levels already occurring due to climate change.

In the afternoon session on adaptation to climate change, the environment minister for Jamaica spoke of how challenging climate change is for Caribbean nations that face the rising violence of extreme storms.

Daryl Vaz told the G7 ministers that his nation has seen 14 hurricanes in a decade, along with 12 tropical storms.

“We only have to look at hurricane activity to see … climate change is effectively normalizing the abnormal,” he said during his presentation.

Jamaica’s efforts to develop economically may be derailed by climate change, with 70 per cent of his island’s population in coastal areas, said the minister.

He told the delegates that billions in investment is needed for the preservation of natural areas that help stabilize the coast, including mangroves in the intertidal zones.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Compound 1080 confirmed in dog death in Gold Creek area

Pathologist believes the poisoning was secondary

Farm life: Planning and preserving, a time of transition

Over the coming weeks many plants will be pulled from my garden and replaced with cool weather crops

Masks4Canada group reiterates call for mask mandate

Walmart Canada and BC Transit have made masks mandatory

Kiakho Lake wildfire being held, Stirton Rd wildfire under control

Latest update on two local wildfires in the Kimberley and Cranbrook area

Cranbrook Bucks set to open rookie camp at the end of August

Junior hockey will feature in Cranbrook at the end of the month,… Continue reading

STANDING TALL: For some, B.C.’s forest industry is the best office in the world

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Hiroo Onoda’s Thirty-Year War

Some Japanese soldiers, not knowing the war was over, did not surrender until 1972

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Lower Mainland woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

UPDATE: Two dead after fishing boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

Most Read