‘Historic opportunity’ ahead for the climate under Canada’s new leadership

Canada's new leadership

Creative Commons: Joseph Morris, 2013

High hopes are sweeping through Canada as the country’s oil-driven government finally collapsed.

After nearly 10 years in office, Stephen Harper’s Conservative administration will be replaced by Liberal party front runner Justin Trudeau.

Lena Moffitt, Director of the Stop Dirty Fuels campaign, Sierra Club said:

Justin Trudeau’s victory shows that the Canadian people are no longer willing to rely on 19th century energy ideas to fuel their economy. Canada can now move on from short-sighted economic policies, failed commitments on climate change, and a weak climate promise that lags behind the rest of the world and re-engage with the world on building a clean energy future.

Under the former Prime Minister’s rule, Canada put fossil fuels at the forefront of the political platform, including pushing dirty tar sands development, promoting pipeline projects, and pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol.

All signs pointed to the end of the Harper era as the economy nosedived following the oil market’s crash earlier this year, with the loonie suffering and emissions skyrocketing under his administration.

As Canadians usher in their new leader, expectations are running high for the Prime Minister-elect to live up to claims for robust change.

Patrick Bonin, Greenpeace Canada said:

It is a great day for Canada and also potentially for the climate. Canadians have voted Prime Minister Stephen Harper out of office so we stand ready to welcome Canada back in the UNFCCC process as a country that will take these negotiations seriously. The new government led by Justin Trudeau can show they’re serious by turning its back on fossil fuel expansion and re-submitting a stronger national climate action plan ahead of COP21.

On the campaign trail, Justin Trudeau expressed intentions to step up for the climate on behalf of Canada during Paris UN meetings in December.  

Meanwhile, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands are rising faster than the country’s ability to curb them.

If Canada wants to as a real leader in the global transition, the country needs to move away from all tar sands-driven projects, such as the Trudeau-backed Keystone XL pipeline.

Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada said:

The Liberal government has an unprecedented opportunity to reject boom and bust polluting industries by stopping tar sands expansion and making Canada a leader in renewable energies. It’s now time to say yes to a brighter future and farewell to politics of fear and environmental degradation.

With less than 40 days until Paris UN meetings, the pressure is now on for Trudeau to turn around Canada’s reputation from a climate laggard to a climate leader.

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