|Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he can't support climate change agreements that exclude the world's biggest polluters. U.S. President Barack Obama, seen with Harper in 2013, announced an emissions deal with China Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)|
In a stunning announcement that took political leaders and environmentalists by surprise, U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that his country's GHG emissions would be cut by 26 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025, while China's President Xi Jinping agreed to cap emissions by 2030.
"It changes the water on the beans," said David McLaughlin, an adviser at the University of Waterloo’s school of environment, in an interview with CBC News.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and successive environment ministers have repeatedly said Canada would move on climate change when there was a commitment from "all major emitters" to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
But Harper has also said that Canada is "more frank" than other countries about the economic impact of mitigating climate change.
"No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. And we are just a little more frank about that, but that is the approach that every country is seeking," Harper said in June.
McLaughlin, who is also the former president and CEO of the national round table on the environment and the economy — an independent advisory group that no longer exists after its funding was slashed by the Harper government in the 2012 budget — said the U.S.-China deal is a game-changer.
"The excuse of the largest emitters not acting is gone. The excuse that the U.S. wasn't moving and therefore we should be careful about how far we move, that is now gone."