Canadian International Council

Canadian International Council

August 19, 2010 10:08 ET

Canada Should Not Wait for the US on Climate Change, New CIC Paper Argues

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 19, 2010) - The Canadian government has decided that its climate change response will be closely linked to that of the United States. However, the Canadian government does not yet have a strategy to meet its Copenhagen target of a 17-percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 and seems unlikely to develop such a plan until there is clarification on how the United States will meet its target.

A new paper released today by the Canadian International Council asserts that while Canada may need to wait for the United States before deciding on a carbon pricing system, that should not stop it from exploring other initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate Change and Foreign Policy in Canada: Intersection and Influence argues that the Copenhagen Accord has the potential to develop a solid foundation and framework to help countries begin to respond effectively to climate change. Strong action is needed in Canada and other developed countries.

"The first task at hand for Canada is putting its own house in order. The government of Canada has indicated that it is not prepared to implement a cap-and-trade system or climate change regulations in the absence of similar action in the United States; but the government has taken complementary action on fuel efficiency and unilateral action on the regulation of coal-fired electricity generation," John Drexhage and Deborah Murphy, authors of the paper, argue.

The Canadian government must determine what it wants in terms of a climate and energy regulatory regime; work with the provinces and stakeholders to identify the best way of going forward in Canada; and ensure that this plan would complement US actions and legislation.

The authors recommend the following actions to strengthen Canadian climate change policy:

  • A First Ministers' Meeting to address Canadian energy and climate change policy, and Canada's profile in the North American energy picture.
  • The federal government should develop a credible and comprehensive plan that lays out how Canada intends to meet its target of a 17-percent emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2020.
  • Canada should increase support for adaptation strategies and activities at home in the Arctic and in developing countries through bilateral and multilateral assistance.
  • Canada's $400-million contribution under the Copenhagen Accord should create opportunities for bilateral project assistance, including "signature" projects that can be identified with Canada and led by Canadians.

John Drexhage is director of the Climate Change and Energy Program of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Deborah Murphy is an associate with IISD.

For more information on Climate Change and Foreign Policy in Canada: Intersection and Influence or the CIC, please visit:

The Canadian International Council (CIC) is an independent, member-based council established to strengthen Canada's role in international affairs. The CIC reflects the ideas and interests of a broad constituency of Canadians who believe that a country's foreign policy is not an esoteric concern of experts but directly affects the lives and prosperity of its citizens. The CIC uses its deep historical roots, its cross-country network and its active research program to advance debate on international issues across academic disciplines, policy areas and economic sectors. The CIC's research program is managed by the national office in Toronto. Its 15 branches across Canada offer CIC members speakers' programs, study groups, conferences and seminars.

Contact Information