The Current

Provincial climate meeting undermined by Alberta's absence

Last December, nations - including Canada - met in Peru to tackle climate change, the message was urgent. Today provinces meet for Climate Summit talks to make headway on emissions standards. But Alberta is missing from the meeting, a province that needs to play a bigger role if Canada is serious about curbing climate change.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced Ontario is joining Quebec and California in a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

For leaders of the provinces and territories gathering today in Quebec City, plans on how to combat climate change will be on the agenda. And two provinces just made big headlines with theirs. Ontario's premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec's Phillipe Couillard sealed a deal yesterday for a cap-and-trade system, adding some spark to today's talks.

There is some real urgency... just last week, the federal environment minister wrote to the provinces saying she needs more details about their efforts, before Canada can put its own plan to the U.N. So, cap-and-trade for Ontario and Quebec will take its place beside other provincial strategies: A carbon tax in B.C.; carbon capture in Saskatchewan; a fracking moratorium in New Brunswick; and... in Alberta... Well, Alberta is still growing its emissions and putting off climate discussions until after its current provincial vote.

For a sense of what could come out of today's summit meeting, we were joined by Ontario's Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray. He's at the provincial summit on climate change in Quebec City.

The Federal Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, won't be attending today's meeting, she sent a letter requesting more information on the various provincial climate plans — Canada needs to show that it's on track to meet its emission-reduction commitments ahead of a U.N. conference in Paris this December.

Conservative MP Colin Carrie is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Environment Minister in Ottawa. 

We did request an interview with the Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq but she was not available.

As the leaders gather in Quebec City today, environmental groups will be watching closely, and performing their own green tests on the ideas under discussion.

Dale Marshall is the national program manager with Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based group. We reached him in Quebec City.

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Gord Westmacott.