Speaking at the UN climate summit in Paris on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government considers the fight against climate change a top priority, as well as a "historic opportunity" to create economic growth.

Trudeau is one of approximately 150 leaders attending the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dubbed “COP21,” which aims to complete a binding framework for emissions reductions starting after the year 2020.

He is leading a large Canadian delegation including provincial premiers, federal party leaders, cabinet ministers and city mayors.

Speaking to other delegates on Monday morning, Trudeau said Canada will do its part in tackling climate change by acting on five principles. These include:

  • relying on scientific evidence and advice;
  • implementing policies to develop a low-carbon economy, including carbon pricing;
  • working with provincial and territorial leaders, city mayors and indigenous leaders to coordinate efforts;
  • helping developing nations adapt to climate change challenges;
  • approaching climate change as an opportunity to build a sustainable green economy, rather than just a challenge.

On this last point, Trudeau said Canada will not "sacrifice growth" as it pursues a green economy, but will "build growth" instead, by investing in new technologies and creating green jobs.

The prime minister wrapped up his comments by noting that Canada looks forward to playing a constructive role at the Paris summit.

"Canada is back, my good friends," he told the delegates. "We're here to help, to build an agreement that will do our children and grand-children proud."

Trudeau had several bilateral meetings scheduled on Monday, including a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the King of Jordan. During his meeting with the Israeli leader, Trudeau was invited to visit Israel, CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife tweeted.

On Monday, Canada pledged $300 million a year in funding towards clean technology and innovation. The initiative has been heavily promoted by U.S. President Barack Obama, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and French President Francois Hollande.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Trudeau said that the government will have "a lot more work to do" on the climate file before the next First Ministers’ meeting.

"All premiers and I made serious commitments about taking the kind of action that Canadians expect, and in the coming 90 days leading up to our next first ministers meeting we will have a lot more work to do," he said at a news conference.

He wouldn't give specific details on when the federal government will put forward a concrete national climate change plan, but did say that Ottawa understands that fighting climate change presents a "tremendous opportunity" for innovation.

But B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who is among several premiers attending COP2, said each province needs to take its own approach to fighting climate change.

“It’s going to be a different answer for every province,” she told CTV’s Power Play Monday.  “It’s really important that each province have the ability to choose their own model. If there was a model that was imposed federally for the whole country, I guarantee you we would be losing all kinds of jobs.”

Clark said B.C. has successfully implemented a carbon tax that has allowed the economy to grow while emissions are reduced across the province.

She also said that Canada’s record on fighting climate change really “belongs to the provinces” and the individual efforts they’ve been making over the years.

“We are the story that (Trudeau) is telling while he’s here (in Paris),” she said.

The prime minister said the government has already started putting elements of a national plan in place, including the plan for a low-carbon energy trust and pledging $20 billion in green infrastructure over the next decade.

During the conference on Monday, Canada was credited with a $30-million contribution to help the world's poorest countries deal with immediate climate threats. And last week in Malta, Trudeau pledged $2.65 billion over five years to help developing countries tackle climate change.

Meanwhile, the French president raised a link between climate change and global terrorism as he opened the conference Monday morning.

Hollande said the implications of climate change lead to global conflicts.

"I'm not choosing between the fight against terror and the fight against global climate change," he said during his opening address. "Because we must leave our children more than a planet free of terrorism… we must leave them a viable planet."

Paris has been the centre of two high-profile terror attacks this year, including the mass shootings and bombings that killed 130 people at several sites across the city on Nov. 13.

With files from The Canadian Press