As Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq prepares to attend international climate talks, she says Canada is still deciding whether to match a recent U.S. pledge for further reductions in carbon emissions.

Nearly 200 countries are working on a draft agreement in Lima, Peru that is to be finalized next year in Paris. Aglukkaq is leaving for Lima this weekend to take part in talks starting Monday.

In the lead up to conference, countries have been announcing new, deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Two of the world's biggest emitters, China and the United States, recently signed a deal that will see the U.S. cut its emissions by 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Canada has so far matched U.S. emissions targets, but Aglukkaq would not say whether Canada would match the U.S. goal this time.

"If it makes sense for Canada, we'll go there. But in terms of targets we have not finalized those as we move towards 2015," she said.

'There are already lots of people who are advocating for business and the economy. And we need somebody who is strong on environmental protection, which means action on climate change' - Dale Marshall of Environmental Defence

The deputy secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, Jeremiah Lengoasa, opened the Lima climate talks with this grim assessment of the earth's temperature.

"If November and December maintain the same global temperature anomaly value, the best estimates for 2014, according to this measure, will place it as the warmest year on record," he told delegates.

Aglukkaq said she plans to lay out what Canada has done domestically so far in cutting emissions in the transportation and electricity sector.

Environment Canada's own reports show the Harper government is falling short of the target it agreed to five years ago, after the climate meeting in Copenhagen.

But Aglukkaq said she is still committed to meeting it.

"We'll continue to move towards the 2020 targets. But it's 2020. A lot can happen in between now and 2020. But we're committed to working towards those targets," Aglukkaq told CBC News.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May isn't convinced that will happen. "We are not delivering on that target. We are nowhere near making a dent in that target, whereas the United States will have met that target on time in 2020," May told reporters Thursday, as she too readied to travel to Lima.

'Running out of excuses'

New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen said Canada must come up with a plan now.

"Every year they come up with another excuse. 'Well, Obama's the problem, well China's the problem, well we don't want to hurt the oil and gas sector's the problem.' They're running out of excuses. The world's running out of time. We need to act," Cullen said.

Aglukkaq said any new international agreement must be fair to Canada, pointing out emissions are coming down in this country, at a time when the economy and jobs are growing.

Dale Marshall, with Environmental Defence, argues it shouldn't be up to the environment minister to look out for both of those issues.

"There are already lots of people who are advocating for business and the economy. And we need somebody who is strong on environmental protection, which means action on climate change," Marshall said.

Marshall said the government could begin by bringing in oil and gas regulations, which have been promised by the Harper government for eight years.

Aglukkaq told CBC she is working on bringing those in but she insists this is an area that must be aligned with the United States.

"It is a continental issue that we want to align with the United States because it is so intertwined," she said.


  • Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq's office says new oil and gas regulations are not imminent. An earlier version of this story reported Aglukkaq said she was working on bringing new regulations in "soon."
    Dec 04, 2014 8:37 PM ET