Bill McKibben Founder, writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben speaks in Times Square, NYC via Flickr CC-BY-2.0

Canada’s reputation at global climate talks has gone downhill over the last decade, and we have a lot of work to do in order to repair that. Last July, US environmental activist and founder of, Bill McKibben referred to Canada as a “destructive and dangerous force upon the planet.” 

With a new Prime Minister at the helm, there’s an opportunity to change things, though Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna has already announced that Canadians should not to expect Canada to commit to new emissions reduction targets at COP21.

“It's been very odd to look north to the border and see a reflection of the worst of American politics. We hope those days are over, and that Canada will return to its old constructive ways,” McKibben said over email.

On the global stage, McKibben says that the US is doing better than Canada in terms of climate change mitigation. “[That is] because the White House was not completely controlled by the fossil fuel industry.”

Under Stephen Harper, Canada’s economy became more energy-dominated with energy products being the main export from 2007 until last July, when it was surpassed by auto parts. McKibben says the Harper government had a singe-minded focus of serving the tar sands stakeholders.

“[Canada] behaved recklessly internally — tearing up decades of environmental rules —and internationally, where it helped derail climate negotiations in the past,” McKibben said.

McKibben will attend COP21 and says it is imperative for both Canadians and Americans to pay attention. “Climate change is already affecting our planet in deep and dramatic ways, and that damage will only grow.”

In order to repair our global reputation, the Canadian government must stop pretending that developing the tar sands and climate progress can go hand-in-hand, McKibben said.

“[Canada] needs to put in place a moratorium on the expansion of the tar sands complex, and keep most of the oil in the ground.”

Megan is A\J's editorial manager, a lover of journalism, and graduate of the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. 


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