Canada’s First Ministers push towards clean growth

Ilario D'Amato
11 March 2016

LONDON: Canada’s First Ministers have unanimously agreed to promote clean growth while tackling climate change in a historic ‘Vancouver Declaration’. In particular, the framework pushes for “pricing carbon, which this country, and its Premiers, will put forward,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the final press conference.

The meeting was set just a few days before another climate cornerstone for the country, the joint statement on tackling climate change with the US President Barack Obama. The two countries “must and will play a leadership role internationally in the low carbon global economy over the coming decades,” the statement reads, pledging to implement the Paris Agreement set last December at COP21 through a series of bold policies and initiatives.

Canada has already a track record in implementing cap-and-trade’ systems, which aim to curb their greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions putting a price on carbon – while investing the profits back to the society, through projects stimulating a low carbon economy.

“The Vancouver Declaration highlights the crucial role of states, provinces and regions in tackling climate disruption,” says Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director, The Climate Group, “in particular when they come together to share their experiences and successes.

“Canadian provinces are showing the way forward through innovative policy tools, such as carbon markets and investing in cleaner jobs, which will shape the future of the global economy. Being at the forefront of this transition will give their citizens a better environment and a more prosperous, resilient economy.”


The Canadian province of Québec has successfully demonstrated how this tool can be effective in reducing over time pollutants, while stimulating the industry to find innovative technologies to cut their emissions.

Québec is also co-chair of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance, a program that brings together sub-national government leaders from around the world in a powerful, high-profile network to share expertise, demonstrate impacts and influence the international climate dialogue.

One of the main fruits of such collaboration has been the creation of a joint Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) between Québec and California, another member of the States & Regions Alliance, which was launched in 2014 to create the largest regional carbon market in North America.

Last year, the Canadian province of Ontario – which is also part of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance – launched its own cap-and-trade system, aiming to linking it with Québec’s and California’s joint ETS. To date, more than three quarters of Canada’s population is covered under these carbon markets.


The Vancouver Declaration has set four working groups that will study how to progress Canada towards “clean technology, innovation and jobs; carbon pricing mechanisms; specific mitigation opportunities; and adaptation and climate resilience.” The results of these studies will be public by next October.

The accord builds on the momentum created by the Paris Agreement at COP21 last December, which recognized the crucial role of the subnational governments in tackling climate change through policies that are both innovative and close to the citizens.

During COP21, the Canadian province of Alberta joined The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance, expanding the influence of such global network on shaping Canada’s cleaner future. Recently, the province pledged to invest US$3.58 million for clean energy jobs.

“What matters to Alberta is ensuring that our energy economy is resilient for the challenges that come ahead,” said Shannon PhillipsMinister of Environment and ParksAlberta, in an exclusive Climate TV interview during last COP21. “We know that Alberta can lead again.”


Building on the COP21 success, the First Ministers have committed “to enable Canada to maximize the economic growth and middle class job opportunities of a cleaner, more resilient future.” In particular, they will implement polices to meet – or even exceed – Canada’s 2030 target of a 30% reduction below 2005 levels of emissions, through an enhanced coordination between provinces.

“Clean growth, which supports the transition to a climate-resilient and low carbon economy by 2050, is necessary to ensure the future prosperity of Canada and Canadians,” the First Ministers write in the document. To achieve that, they will ensure both deep reductions in GHG emissions and encourage investment in clean technology solutions.

On a policy level, the First Ministers highlight how many provinces have been leading in tackling climate change through different tools, such as carbon pricing, increasing buildings’ energy efficiency and improving transit. These ‘good practices’ will be discussed and developed in a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, which will be then implemented by early 2017.

While other issues remain to be discussed on a national level – particularly how Canada’s energy economy is still dependant on its huge oil deposits – the meeting has highlighted once again the fundamental role of States and Regions in addressing climate disruption. As the Declaration underlines, it is only through collaboration and sharing of best practices that Canada – and the world – could achieve a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous future.

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