May 31, 2017 / 11:19 PM / 2 months ago

Canada to 'keep marching on' in climate fight, despite Trump

3 Min Read

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017.Alessandro Bianchi

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada on Wednesday greeted reports that U.S. President Donald Trump was leaning toward withdrawal from a pact on climate change by saying it would "keep marching on" with the rest of the world to combat global warming.

If Trump does pull the United States out of the 195-nation Paris accord, it would be a blow to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A source familiar with the matter said Trudeau strongly urged the president to stay in the pact during a meeting of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations last week.

Trudeau's Liberal government, which insists meaningful action be taken to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, plans to impose a national price on carbon.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the Paris deal was a strong signal to markets and also to Canadian firms specializing in clean technology.

"I think this really is a huge opportunity for Canada and no one government can stop the momentum," she told reporters at an event in Toronto.

Asked what the impact of a Trump withdrawal would be, she replied: "Canada is going to keep marching on, as is the rest of the world".

During the G7 summit, Trudeau told Trump the world economy was already adjusting to climate change and the real issue was who should lead that process, said the source, who asked for anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

"Countries that are outside the Paris framework risk being left behind as the energy, food and transportation systems are transformed by new technologies," said the source.

"The prime minister's main point was dealing with climate change is going to create growth and jobs, especially in energy. We want those jobs and that growth to be in our countries," added the source, who spoke before news of Trump's possible withdrawal broke.

Separately, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told reporters that Ottawa would stick to plans for a national carbon price to fight global warming.

Critics say the idea means Canadians firms' operating costs will rise at a time when Trump is pushing to cut corporate taxes and relax environmental regulations.

McKenna said she had urged U.S. officials to stay in the Paris deal, noting that 90 percent of the agreement remained to be negotiated.

"We certainly will be at the table playing a leadership role because we think it's the right thing to do and makes economic sense," she said.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio

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