Jun 21, 2018, by Ewa Krukowska and Jonathan Stearns
Canada has an environmental message for Donald Trump: you can’t stop the global campaign against climate change and you will hurt the U.S. by abandoning the battle.
Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said countries around the world are forging ahead with measures to reduce greenhouse gases, unfazed by Trump’s planned withdrawal from a landmark United Nations deal to counter global warming. Canada, the European Union and China are leading the charge, which will bring businesses big rewards, she said.
“I hate to say this, but I don’t want to overestimate the importance of the U.S.,” McKenna said in an interview on Thursday in Brussels, where she attended a gathering with her EU and Chinese counterparts. “The world is moving forward because we need to do that for our kids and there’s a huge economic opportunity.”
The U.S. turn inward under Trump and his upending of American foreign policies ranging from trade to security have left the rest of the world rushing to fill a void and create new alliances.
A central part of this effort aims to preserve the landmark UN agreement reached in Paris in 2015 on limiting gases blamed for more frequent heat waves, storms and floods. The premise, rejected by the Trump administration, is that the accord is good for both the earth and the economy.
“We’re just going to continue marching on,” McKenna said. “There are other voices that want to say ’forget it, if the U.S. pulls out it’s all going to fall apart,’ and I think we demonstrated quite clearly that’s not the case.”
In their climate leadership pact, Canada, the EU and China are focused on ensuring that envoys from more than 190 countries reach an agreement on detailed rules to enact the Paris accord. The next key meeting will be held in Poland in December.
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“Every country is now stepping up and saying what they’re going to do, but you need the engine of the Paris Agreement,” McKenna said. “It’s extremely important and business needs to see that.”
China, the EU and Canada together accounted for 40 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, in 2017, according to the latest BP Plc statistical review. China, the top polluter, had a 28 percent share of worldwide discharges, followed by the U.S. with 15 percent.
While Trump is depriving the U.S. of a climate leadership role at the federal level, other American actors are helping to ensure the country doesn’t miss out altogether on the worldwide shift to cleaner energy, according to McKenna.
“When the president said he was pulling out of the Paris Agreement, you saw U.S. business leaders step up, U.S. governors, cities step up. And citizens,” she said. “Is it sad and unfortunate that the U.S. is not there? Sure, but we can still do it. No one country can stop progress.”