EU Climate Czar Says Trudeau Can Fill ‘Leadership Vacuum’ Trump Created

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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The European Union’s climate change czar wants Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fill the “leadership vacuum” created because President Donald Trump refuses to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Miguel Arias Canete, the commissioner on climate action and energy, told CBC News that he already misses the “clear leadership” of former President Barack Obama.

“There was a very clear leadership of President Obama, a personal involvement… That spirit of leadership, of involvement, will probably not be the same,” he said.

Canete said that Trump’s demand to assess the agreement is an opportunity for Trudeau to be a climate change champion.

“There cannot be a vacuum of leadership in climate change policy because climate change policies need leadership who show the way and who make other people move,” said Canete, who spent some time in Ottawa this week engaged in unspecified environmental meetings with Canada.

“That is the role of Canada. And the close alliance of Canada and the European Union will be very useful to maintain the spirit of Paris and support the enforcement of the Paris rules in the future. We are going to work together closely,” he said.

While running for the presidency, Trump explicitly promised to cut all funding to UN environmental programs, declaring so at an address in Gettysburg, Penn. that was seen by many as pivotal in defining the goals of his administration. During his transition, Trump promised to keep an open mind on climate change and the Paris Agreement of 2015 that pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

According to reports, the Trump administration is currently split between pro and anti-climate change factions to cancel the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement.

Incoming Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is already worrying Canete because the new EPA boss won’t toe the environmental line on humans being directly responsible for all climate change.

The environmental chiefs at the EU were not so friendly with Canada just a few years ago when they threatened Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that they would label Canadian petroleum from the oil sands project as “dirty oil.”

Trudeau has approved two pipelines to carry that “dirty oil,” but Canete said that’s all in the past now.

“We don’t continue the same policy,” he said. “Canada and the EU are very serious about fulfilling their targets. I am absolutely convince that Canada will reduce its emissions at the levels they have committed.”

Trudeau, despite calling himself Canada’s environmental prime minister, has actually maintained the same greenhouse gas targets as the previous Conservative government.

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told CBC that she believes she can convince Trump to accept the Paris Climate Agreement because of “the economic opportunity when it comes to a clear energy economy. This is about jobs.”

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