McKenna says global climate deal 'a huge opportunity' for Canadian businesses

Canada's environment minister says the landmark deal between nearly 200 nations to fight climate change presents a "huge opportunity" for the country's economy.

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The "Paris agreement" saw world leaders agree to collectively cut and eliminate greenhouse gas pollution, and to prevent global temperatures from increasing another one degree Celsius between now 2100.

In an appearance on CTV's Power Play, Catherine McKenna said securing the global pact was no easy task, but its agreement "demonstrates a huge will to come together."

"Everyone's on board, everyone is hailing this as a good agreement, and now I think the reality is Canadians want to see how we do our part in tackling climate change, and also making it an economic opportunity," she said.

McKenna said that she was "really proud" that she had the support of Canadian businesses in Paris, and that the climate deal could offer a "huge opportunity" in the export of green technology.

"One hundred and ninety five countries have signalled we need to be moving to a low-carbon economy, so that means the markets will respond," she said.

"There will be money and investment flowing," she said.

McKenna predicted that India alone will need $2.5 trillion in green investments.

She also stressed that there is no need for adversarial relationship between the economy and the environment.

McKenna cited the example of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's recent climate change plan, which had the support of the province's major energy companies.

"I'd really like everyone to come back from Paris -- we were all united there as Team Canada -- … and really think hard about how can we do our part, but in in a way that makes economic sense," she said.

"Canadians need good jobs … If we can get it right when it comes to clean tech we can export this -- there are huge opportunities to export."

Emissions targets

Last May, Stephen Harper's Conservative government said it was aiming to reduce carbon emissions to 30 per cent below Canada's 2005 levels.

McKenna has indicated that goal should be the floor, but sidestepped around offering a new target on Power Play.

"I'm an optimistic realist. I think we have to do a lot of hard work," she said.

"I can throw out a target, anyone can throw out a target, but I think Canadians are tired of seeing targets but no concrete actions that go with them."

McKenna said she has already begun discussions with provinces and territories about formulating a national plan to tackle climate change.

She added that while the Harper government was "missing in action" over the last decade many of the provinces have already come up with concrete measures.

But she said the federal government can potentially offer up further assistance in the form of "green infrastructure" and "green investment bonds."

"We need to be looking at how we work with them, because if we're going to get this done we have to be working for a common cause," she said.


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