Paul Daly The Canadian Press During a joint press briefing Friday with European Council President Charles Michel (right) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left), the first Minister Justin Trudeau touted carbon pricing.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders strongly defended the effectiveness of their respective carbon pricing policies on Friday, a month after a first breach was opened in the Canadian tax in this area.
“Carbon pricing is an important tool, not only to combat climate change, but also to create economic opportunities for our entrepreneurs, our families and to help with the costs of living,” Mr. Trudeau said from Saint -Jean de Terre-Neuve.
During a joint press briefing with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Mr. Trudeau said touted the price on pollution.
The three leaders emphasized these initiatives as a global strategy to reduce greenhouse gases. “This transition must be fair, just, and it is complicated,” said Mr. Michel during the two-day Canada-EU summit in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In their joint statement, the EU and Ottawa announced “the creation of a Green Alliance [which] will strengthen [the] already close cooperation on climate action and support the work [that is being carried out by] both to promote growth of sustainable, competitive economies offering quality jobs.”
The President of the European Council presented the principle of carbon pricing as a “powerful and rather effective instrument for encouraging behavioral changes.”
He also argued that this type of measure serves to “give a signal [to] economic actors so that they can identify which are the spaces for investments that are compatible with this climate commitment.”
Mr. Michel did not fail to highlight the climate objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Last month, the Trudeau government announced that it was making a temporary dent in its flagship carbon pricing policy.
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The exemption granted by Justin Trudeau to Canadians is, more precisely, a three-year reprieve from carbon taxation for homeowners who rely on an oil heating system. The Liberals are also providing funding to help people switch to electric heating.
The Canadians most affected by this carbon tax holiday are those who live in the Atlantic.
“It is a limited temporary suspension and it will be the only exception that we will make,” insisted Mr. Trudeau on Friday.
The Canadian ambassador to France, Stéphane Dion, added by affirming that “ in politics […] you have to keep the people with you.”
“So we try to move forward, but by keeping the people with us. If we want purists, the purists cannot keep power and they cannot even take it. We want to have pragmatic and courageous politicians,” he said in the press scrum.
Mr. Dion, a former federal minister, is also Canadian special envoy to the European Union and Europe. On Friday morning, he took part in an extended bilateral meeting during which several politicians and other senior diplomats joined MM. Michel and Trudeau as well as Ms. Von der Leyen.
The latter affirmed, at a press conference, that carbon pricing has worked in Europe despite the pressures generated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine on energy needs.
Questioned on this subject by The Canadian Press, she admitted to having had “at the start” a certain “concern” about the impacts on the consumption of fossil fuels.
“But that’s the contrary which is [ultimately] the case,” said the President of the European Commission. She argued that in 2022, the economy grew by 3.5% while emissions fell by 2.5%.
In the eyes of Roger Hilton, an expert collaborating on research for the GLOBSEC think tank, carbon pricing may be more complex in terms of its concrete effects in certain European countries.
“Particularly at the level of Is like Slovakia, Hungary or Poland, where they have to find other forms of energy so that they don't use Russian sources”, mentioned the native Montrealer who has lived in Europe for many years.
Research and air tankers
The leaders also confirmed, following the summit, that an agreement on research funding was in the works.
At the opening of the Canada-European Union summit, the Canadian Prime Minister had said that Ottawa was joining the initiative dubbed Horizon Europe, a European scientific research program totaling $100 billion.
Mr. Trudeau also announced on Friday that the new generation air tankers promised to Europe will indeed be sent once they have been built in Canada.
Asked why the first devices would not serve to benefit Canadians, considering last summer's record wildfire season, the Prime Minister responded that he does not lead a country that “prevents his friends from getting the support they have need.”
He noted that extreme weather events are shaking the four corners of the planet.
“We must continue to be present and generous to each other,” he pleaded. He added that Canadians will benefit, in the longer term, from air tankers built in Canada.
Demonstration of friendship
The three leaders began their working day on Friday with a three-way bilateral meeting of approximately 30 minutes.
All three wanted to make a very concrete demonstration of the ties of friendship between Europe and Canada, throwing flowers in front of the crowd of journalists and photographers gathered together.
Charles Michel declared that “the trust and friendship” are “truly the foundations of the relationship between the European Union and Canada.”
“We share the same values, the same dreams, the same hopes,” he said. – he then argued.
European leaders reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution in the Middle East.
According to Roger Hilton, Canada and the European Union are not not in a position of diplomatic leadership that would put an end to the violence between Israel and Hamas.
“It is clear that the two major international players who will resolve the problem with the hostages would not be the European Union and especially not Canada. We really saw great leadership [in] Qatar's role with the United States,” summarized the one who specializes in security issues.
The EU and Canada also took advantage of the summit in Newfoundland to display a united front against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.