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Ahead of First White House Visit, Environmental Groups Call on PM Trudeau to Adopt Harmonized Climate Test

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It’s impossible to meet Canada’s Paris climate commitment using ‘business as usual’ evaluation

February 23, 2016, Ottawa
- Ahead of Prime Minister Trudeau’s first White House visit to discuss climate policy with President Obama, environmental groups across North America today called on PM Trudeau to implement an evidence-based climate test for all energy projects and policies under federal review. Such a test would assess the economic viability of energy infrastructure in a world transitioning away from fossil fuels in a manner consistent with Canada’s Paris climate commitment. 

“Adopting this new climate test is a critical next step given the commitments Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama made in Paris, as well as to strengthen their relationship after President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Anthony Swift, Director of the Canada Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Evaluating energy projects and policies in light of their potential climate impacts can help Canada and the United States transition to cleaner energy and meet their climate commitments.”

On March 10, PM Trudeau will make his first official visit to Washington, DC for a state dinner and discussions about energy and climate change with President Obama. Environmental groups are for leaders to include a discussion of a harmonized climate test on their agenda, and agree to take action to apply climate science to decisions about major energy projects.

“In light of the changed climate policy in Canada, the U.S., and globally, it’s essential Canada start measuring policies and investment opportunities against a path that leads to climate safety,” said Dale Marshall, National Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “Strengthened climate and clean energy collaboration between the United States and Canada presents an opportunity to ensure both countries invest in projects that support low carbon prosperity.”

At present, Canada’s regulators assess energy projects based on 'business as usual' fossil fuel use growth projections in Canada and around the globe. These “reference case” scenarios continue to fail to meet internationally agreed climate goals. However, in light of the historic Paris Agreement, supported by 195 nations at the United Nations last December, Canada needs to modernize its environmental assessments to ensure consistency with domestic and international climate commitments.

“Canada should model energy scenarios that assess the impact of stronger climate policies at home and abroad, including carbon pricing and regulatory limits on emissions in the fossil fuel sector, like those that will soon exist in Alberta’s oilsands,” said Erin Flanagan, Director of Federal Policy at the Pembina Institute. “As Canada and its provinces implement new climate policies, they should bet on others following suit.”

Groups were pleased to see the government unveil interim climate measures for energy projects last month, but now encourage the government to adopt the climate test to ensure its interim measures are meaningful.

“Canada needs a meaningful climate test to ensure that short-term investment decisions don’t stand in the way of long-term plans to decouple economic growth from emissions increases,” said Sidney Ribaux, Executive Director for Equiterre. “ For Canada to reduce its emissions consistent with international obligations, provinces should adopt a climate test as well, since most projects (energy or otherwise) do not fall under federal jurisdiction.”

“This climate test is about providing policymakers with the means to determine which projects are economically viable in a world that is transitioning to a climate safe future,” said Catherine Abreu, Energy Campaign Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre. “Using this test, policymakers can shift investment into projects that will benefit the economy over the long term.”

Learn more about the climate test here:

For more information, please contact:

  • Anthony Swift, Director, Canada Project, NRDC,, (202) 513-6276
  • Dale Marshall, Environmental Defence,,(613) 868 -9917
  • Erin Flanagan, Director, Federal Policy, Pembina Institute,, (587) 581-1701
  • Sidney Ribaux, Executive Director, Equiterre,, (514) 910-2024
  • Catherine Abreu, Energy Campaign Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, (902) 412-8953