Montreal

Charest slams Canada's climate policy in Cancun

Quebec Premier Jean Charest used his short jaunt to the United Nations climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, to blast the federal government's environment policy.

Que. premier takes shot at Ottawa at global climate conference

Quebec Premier Jean Charest used his short jaunt to the United Nations climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, to blast the federal government's environment policy.

Charest arrived at the 10-day conference, which began Nov. 29, on Monday. Before he left on Tuesday, he chastised Ottawa for not supporting an agreement to extend the Kyoto protocol, which sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Jean Charest hopes climate change will be an issue in the next federal election. ((Canadian Press))
Environment Minister John Baird, who was due to arrive in Cancun Tuesday, has said Canada won't sign a deal if the U.S. and other major polluters are not on board as well.

Charest also said he hopes climate change will be a major campaign issue in the next federal election.

"I hope it's debated during the federal election and that it's debated correctly," the premier said at a pres conference. "Not just through the prism of economic growth, or of statistics and track records — but about quality of life, of improving the health of our citizens."

Quebec has boasted at other global summits about its own track record on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

A review of the province's emissions reveals that, in 2008, they had dropped 1.2 per cent below 1990 levels while elsewhere in Canada they had skyrocketed.

Quebec can do more: environmentalists

Environmentalists in Quebec are quick to point out that the province is not beyond reproach when it comes to climate change.

"If you compare yourself to the last of the class, you'll always be a good student," opined Christian Simard, director of Nature Quebec. "In fact, we're not necessarily a good student. In the field of transportation, there's a high increase [in emissions] and in the agricultural sector, too."

Quebec's willingness to go ahead, eventually, with shale gas exploration could have a major impact on the environment and greenhouse gas emissions, Simard added.

Charest received an award at the Cancun summit from the state of South Australia.

The state is naming a forest after the Quebec premier to highlight the premier's "extraordinary leadership" on the issue of climate change, said Mike Rann, premier of South Australia.

Charest is the second recipient of the annual prize. Last year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received the honour.

The Jean Charest urban forest is on the outskirts of the city of Adelaide.

With files from the Canadian Press

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