When Justin Trudeau said that "Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States," in his statement responding to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President, he was right. But while Trudeau extolled how this should mean collaboration with Trump, being the kind of climate leader the world needs is going to mean Trudeau standing up to Trump, not sitting down with him.
While Donald Trump has been thin on actual policies, he said a couple things on climate change; most notably that he wants to resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline and pull the United States out of Paris Climate Agreement. But that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg because, well, Donald Trump doesn't believe in climate change.
Donald Trump in the White House has the potential to be a disaster for the climate, but one way to prevent that is for other countries to step up and be bold.
In fact, he already named a noted climate denier to lead his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency. Take a moment and let it sink in that the leader of one of the most polluting nations on the planet doesn't believe in climate change. Now remember that for Canada, that same nation that buys most of the fossil fuels we're pulling out of the ground.
In 2015, the United States imported over 3 million barrels of oil from Canada each day. Given his position that climate change is a Chinese hoax, Trump probably wants to see number grow, maybe even skyrocket. To do that, he wants pipelines like Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL that would deliver tar sands from Canada to refineries across the United States. But we already know that we can't expand the tar sands and meet the Paris climate targets. In fact, according to a report from Oil Change International, we can't build any new fossil fuel infrastructure if we're going to meet those targets and, you know, avoid catastrophic climate change.
Donald Trump in the White House has the potential to be a disaster for the climate, but one way to prevent that is for other countries to step up and be bold. For Justin Trudeau, that is going to mean rejecting pipelines. If he doesn't, and instead approves projects like Kinder Morgan, Trudeau is going to be complicit in the next four years of havoc that Trump plans to wreck on climate progress. Put another way, he'll be building the fuses for Trump's climate action demolition plan, and put Canada on-side with someone who hopes to deep-six the Paris Climate Agreement.
This might seem hyperbolic, but it was Trudeau that said "the relationship between our two countries serves as a model for the world." The prime minister's choice now is if that model is one of acquiescence to a climate denier and his fossil fuel billionaire friends, or if it is one of standing up for science, for people and for the planet.
Justin Trudeau is seen by a lot of the world as a sort of "Anti-Trump" and in the coming weeks, months and years, he is going to have to earn that title. Part of that is going to be choosing between sitting down with a climate denying racist, or standing up to him.
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