Justin Trudeau signs Paris climate treaty at UN, vows to harness renewable energy

Renewable energy represents ‘tremendous opportunity’ for Canada, PM says at the UN

By Susana Mas, Catherine Cullen, CBC News Posted: Apr 22, 2016 5:00 AM ET



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the Paris agreement on climate change during a ceremony at the United Nations in New York City this morning, giving his word that Canada will harness the power of renewable energy as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Today, with my signature, I give you our word that Canada’s efforts will not cease,” Trudeau said Friday. “Climate change will test our intelligence, our compassion and our will. But we are equal to that challenge.”

The Canadian government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 — a goal set by the previous Conservative government. 

The Trudeau government has said this objective is a “floor” rather than a “ceiling” for what can be accomplished. 

During his opening remarks at the UN ceremony on Friday, Trudeau said the Paris agreement will be tabled in Parliament next month and will be formally ratified later this year.

The Liberal leader said the business case for investing in clean energy was clear, with nearly a third of a trillion dollars invested in renewable power globally last year.

“That’s a trend that will continue to grow, and it’s one that represents a tremendous opportunity for Canada. One that we cannot — and will not — ignore,” Trudeau said to rousing applause from the UN assembly.

Trudeau drew further applause from the crowd when he defended developing countries who are facing extraordinary challenges.

“They shouldn’t be punished for a problem they didn’t create, nor should they be deprived of opportunities for clean growth that developed nations are now pursuing.”

Trudeau told the UN that the Liberal government has committed to investing $2.65 billion over the next five years to help developing countries fight climate change.

“We’re not making these investments simply to be nice, although I know Canada does have a reputation to uphold in that department,” joked Trudeau.

“We’re making these investments and we’re following through on our commitments because it’s the right thing to do.”  

Trudeau urged other countries to follow through with their commitments.

“We are all in this together,” he said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon thanked Trudeau for his leadership on climate action and “Canada’s strong commitment for ratification as well financial support.”

“We are in a race against time,” Ban said at the opening of the ceremony, urging all countries to quickly sign the treaty.

“Let us never forget — climate action is not a burden,” said Ban. “Indeed, it offers many benefits. It can help us eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women. Climate action is essential to achieve the sustainable development goals.”

The United Nations says it will set a record for the most countries signing an international agreement in one day.

The hope is to keep the world engaged in making the accord’s goal a reality: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 C compared to pre-industrial levels, ideally even limiting them to 1.5 C.