France envoy says Trudeau will push others at Paris climate talks
Justin Trudeau speaks in Iqaluit during his campaign on Oct. 10, 2015. France's ambassador says that the early words of the new prime minister suggest he will play an influential role at the upcoming Paris climate talks.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, November 6, 2015 4:59PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 6, 2015 6:03PM EST
OTTAWA -- The Trudeau government's pro-environment stance will inspire other reluctant countries to sign on to an ambitious agreement at the upcoming Paris climate change conference, France's ambassador said Friday.
Nicolas Chapuis said that even though it's still early days, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated he will play an influential role.
"He's going to come with something. We expect it will rally those who are still not totally comfortable with the agreement," Chapuis told The Canadian Press Friday.
"It's a negotiation and we need to have countries like Canada that claim ambition and want success."
Chapuis said he expects a change from the role the previous Conservative government has played.
"This new government brings political impetus that was not there before the 19th of October," he said.
"We welcome the initial statements of this new government, which has put climate change at the heart of its action."
Trudeau is one of 80 world leaders expected to take part in a special meeting Nov. 30 as part of the broader conference, which extends into December, said Chapuis.
As French President Francois Hollande has said, the world has have never been closer to a binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, said Chapuis.
"At the same time we are conscious that the risk of failure has never been greater," he said.
"So the voice of Canada, this new government, is conducive to bring optimism -- that's another word of the prime minister -- to the table, to create the condition of success."
Canada's new environment minister Catherine McKenna is off to Paris for a three-day meeting of her counterparts that starts Sunday.
Environmental groups have criticized the new government, saying the Liberals have simply adopted the targets of the previous Conservative government, and don't appear to have a substantive plan heading into the Paris meetings.
Chapuis said he briefed McKenna Friday afternoon and was impressed with her commitment to making the Paris talks a success.
"Her background is of very high quality for doing that."
Chapuis said there is no concern that Canada's new government is simply too inexperienced to make a meaningful contribution.
He pointed to the fact that Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion previously held the environment portfolio and now chairs the energy and environment cabinet committee.
"He's an expert. There is strong experience brought into the cabinet on this issue."
Chapuis also said the fact that McKenna's portfolio title now includes climate change is significant.
"There's a ministry of climate change . . . this is a very good signal three weeks before the Paris climate change conference -- that a G7 partner puts climate change in its cabinet."
McKenna's presence also marks a change for Canada in the preparations for the Paris conference, known as COP 21. That's because the previous Conservative government sent government officials, not politicians to its previous meetings of environment ministers.
"It will be the first time over the course of the preparation for COP 21 that the minister in charge of environment and climate change will be sitting at this ministerial," said Chapuis.
The ambassador said his country is also looking forward to seeing several provincial premiers in Paris.