Trudeau Needs to Pivot to Trump

By Christopher Sands

Christopher Sands is a Senior Research Professor and Director of the Center for Canadian Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute.

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won its election in October 2015 promising to make Canada a world leader in the effort to address climate change. At one of his first international summits, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change held in Paris in December 2015, Trudeau pledged that Canada would set policy in line with a 2 degree centigrade reduction in global temperatures by 2030, a half degree more ambitious than most other countries, including the United States. It was a clear break with his predecessor, Stephen Harper, who argued that Canada could not allow its policies to be misaligned with those of the United States, which could put Canadian businesses at a competitive disadvantage in their largest foreign market.

In the past year, Trudeau has worked with the Obama administration to put new restrictions on methane flaring, and has already adopted a 54.5 mile per gallon fuel efficiency standard to take effect in 2025 in tandem with the United States. Then in December, Trudeau told provincial leaders that unless they imposed a tax or effective price on carbon on their own by 2018, Ottawa would do it for them.

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