British Columbia

Liberal MP says Canada will ratify Paris climate agreement by end of year

China and the U.S., two of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, have ratified the Paris Agreement. Why hasn't Canada?

Jonathan Wilkinson believes 'provinces are motivated to do specific things' on climate front

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signs the Paris agreement. Trudeau has said climate change is a top priority for his government — so why hasn't Canada ratified the accord? (Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)

The U.S. and China officially ratified the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions last Saturday, putting pressure on other countries like Canada to follow suit.

Liberal MP Jonathan Wilkinson, parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment and climate change, says Canada will ratify the pact by the end of the year.

"We're very committed to ratification," Wilkinson told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko. "We said we'd ratify this year and we're committed to ratifying this year."

Canada is still without a national greenhouse gas reduction plan. A series of March meetings in Vancouver between the prime minister and the premiers in Vancouver yielded no specifics on such a plan.

Sources at the time told the CBC the prime minister was digging in his heels on the need for a national price on carbon, something the premiers opposed.

Canada missing targets

Wilkinson says the prime minister and the premiers will be meeting again in late October or early November to talk about climate policy, and Wilkinson expressed confidence those meetings will result in a plan for Canada to meet its Paris obligations.

"I think all the provinces are motivated to do specific things in regards to climate change," he said.

But with Canada not on track to meet emissions targets set by the Harper government after missing its Kyoto targets, and B.C. not on track to meet its legislated 2020 targets, is there enough accountability for politicians when it comes to climate change?

Wilkinson says the Paris agreement does include accountability measures by increasing transparency when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

"If, in fact, countries don't do what they say they are going to do, … the weight of international scrutiny will fall on those countries," he said.

"People will have to hold our feet to the fire that the plan we arrive at later this year is getting us on a path to meet the international obligations."

Parliament begins its fall session later in September.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Liberal MP says Canada will ratify Paris Agreement by year's end