Fighting Climate Change
Development and Innovation Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment and Climate Change) discusses implementing the Pan-Canadian Agreement, and her focuses on clean growth and building more resilient Canadian communities.
We’ve been working hard alongside the provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, environmentalists, businesses, youth, and really all Canadians to create an inclusive climate change plan and to ensure we progress toward our collective goals.
Working together, we can put our new made-in-Canada plan into action and position Canada to take advantage of the growing opportunity presented by the global clean energy market, while also working to meet our international commitments.
Mediaplanet: Carbon pricing has raised heated debate on both sides of the topic. What are the advantages of its implementation, and what role does carbon pricing play in moving Canada in a climate-friendly direction?
Catherine McKenna: Carbon pricing is definitely an issue that Canadians are passionate about, me included! I see it as putting a price on pollution. It makes sense. It sends a clear signal to consumers, businesses, and investors. Carbon pricing encourages businesses to find ways to reduce emissions — be it switching fuels, changing business processes, investing in energy efficiency, or figuring out ways to deliver more effective services. As the costs of products that cause high greenhouse gas emissions go up, consumer choices will change. This initiative also helps position Canadian industry to compete internationally by responding to the growing global demand for clean technologies.
We agreed with the provinces and territories to price pollution in a way that makes sense for Canada, and in a way that creates incentives for innovation while making sure we protect vulnerable populations and keep our businesses competitive.
MP: Cleantech is an area where Canada has a unique global advantage. How can we enhance our leadership in this area, and what steps are being taken to foster its economic growth?
CM: The world is increasingly looking to find cleaner ways of doing things. In 2015, close to a third of a trillion dollars were invested globally in renewable power capacity —
almost double the amount invested in fossil fuels. This represents a huge economic opportunity for Canadian clean technology companies.
Last December, I visited China to meet with my counterpart in the Chinese government. I brought a trade mission focused on profiling Canadian clean technology including, for example, carbon capture and storage technology from Saskatchewan and Ballard fuel cells. I’m planning to go back again next year, while also bringing a number of Canadian companies with me in a targeted trade mission.
On the domestic front, we’re working with provincial and territorial partners to make smart investments in breakthrough technologies. We’re also working to create the right conditions for Canadian clean technology businesses to succeed and making it easier for them to access government programs and services.
Pricing pollution will be a key element in fostering innovation, since it creates incentives for companies to be cleaner. It will give Canada an edge in building a clean-growth economy, make Canadian businesses more innovative and competitive, bring new and exciting job prospects for middle class Canadians, and reduce the pollution that threatens our clean air and oceans, as well as our health.
MP: Canada is a world leader in public-private partnerships for infrastructure. How are we adapting our nation’s infrastructure and communities to be more climate resilient?
CM: The impacts of climate change are already being felt across Canada. They pose significant risks to communities, our health and well-being, the economy, and the natural environment, especially in Canada’s northern and coastal regions and in Indigenous communities.
Infrastructure is a very important part of the mix. Our government is investing in infrastructure that will protect Canadians against climate-related hazards like floods and wildfires. This means things like improving public transit and building flood walls, but also things like introducing codes to ensure buildings and other public infrastructure are built to withstand weather extremes. We have focused programs aimed at helping those in northern communities through new technologies and better-adapted infrastructure. And we’re developing targeted federal programs that focus on reducing climate change-related health risks, such as those related to extreme heat and infectious diseases. We’re taking a whole-of-government approach.
MP: Since being appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change, what has, in your mind, been Canada’s greatest success in the fight against climate change?
CM: For me, our greatest successes so far have been the ones that brought people together to take action: the signing of the Paris Agreement and the agreement with provinces and territories regarding our national climate plan.
For the first time in Canada, we have a comprehensive, pan-Canadian plan to address climate change and support clean growth.
I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far, but this is not the end. There are major challenges ahead as we work to keep the momentum going on these issues. Working together, we can move Canada toward clean growth.