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Trudeau seeks climate consensus from Canada’s 10 provinces

Vancouver: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today urged the leaders of Canada’s 10 provinces to come together to tackle climate change, as a self-imposed deadline looms to start cutting CO2 emissions.

“We begin from the common goal we all share: We want a low-carbon economy that continues to provide good jobs and create opportunities for all Canadians,” Trudeau said in Vancouver before sitting down with provincial premiers.

“To get there, we need to make smart, strategic investments in clean growth and new infrastructure,” he said.

Elected in October, Trudeau and his Liberal Party government brought to the Paris climate talks late last year the same goals as the previous Tory administration: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

But at those talks, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said this was only a floor. She said she would try, within 90 days, to negotiate deeper cuts with Canada’s provinces — which share responsibility for the environment with Ottawa — to help keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Each province has vastly different economic circumstances and goals, and many have already started taking their own tailored approaches to reducing emissions, which Trudeau has encouraged.

British Columbia and Alberta, for example, impose carbon taxes, while Ontario and Quebec are members of a fledgling continental cap-and-trade system started in the US state of California.

The lone hold-out, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, has vowed to reject a carbon tax he says will cost the prairie province’s economy up to Can$1 billion. His resistance could scuttle Trudeau’s desire for a national carbon price floor.