At the start of the climate change conference (COP21) here in Paris, Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, had a message that was both a call to action and a political jab.
“Canada is back, my good friends,” he told a room of global leaders to applause. “We’re here to help.”
Canada is the world’s ninth most carbon emitting nation, releasing 552.56 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere in 2011, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Trudeau’s statement marks a shift in Canada’s engagement in addressing climate change, an issue many agree was not a priority for Stephen Harper, Canada’s conservative former prime minister.
“My message is simple, Canada can do more to address the global problem that climate change represents,” Trudeau told leaders in French. “Our government is making climate change a top priority,” he added, switching to English. The message that leaders including Trudeau, new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, California Governor Jerry Brown and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have all sent at COP21 is that political leadership must set the tone on climate for business to follow.
As part of his commitments, Trudeau said he would provide support to developing countries and introduce carbon pricing countrywide. He also expressed an interest in working with indigenous communities and vulnerable groups.