Environment Minister McKenna touts economic benefits of climate action to Calgary business crowd

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Environment Minister McKenna touts economic benefits of climate action to Calgary business crowd

Canada's environment minister said new federal and provincial policies dealing with climate change have helped "rehabilitate" Alberta's environmental reputation.

Speaking Thursday to Calgary's business community, Catherine McKenna said dealing with climate change issues cleared the way for the federal government to approve two new pipeline projects, and helped Canada secure a trade deal with Europe.

"The commissioner on environment and energy from the European Union [told me] the only reason that that agreement was able to get over the finish line was that we were serious about climate action," McKenna said, speaking to media after a luncheon held by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

"So once again, it gets back to the economic opportunity. Our government approved two pipelines and we were able to do that because we had taken serious climate action, because the provinces have taken serious climate action."

Alberta stands to benefit

McKenna told the business crowd the global shift to clean technology presents a multi-trillion dollar economic opportunity, and Alberta is well-placed to benefit from that.

"This is the opportunity for Canada to be at the forefront in developing cleaner energy, including from the oilsands, in developing new companies and innovating, and if there's a place that knows how to innovate it is right here in Calgary," McKenna said.

McKenna spent Thursday morning meeting with Calgary energy companies, and visited SAIT in the afternoon to talk to students who will fill clean technology jobs.

"I think it's a really exciting time," she told The Homestretch. "Because in Canada you have government working with provinces, working with industry, working with environmental groups and working with Indigenous peoples."

Trade with U.S.

McKenna also sought to assure the business crowd that trade with the U.S. is a top priority for the federal government.

She said they are working extraordinarily hard to remind the U.S. about the importance of the trading relationship with Canada. McKenna plans to visit Washington next week to reinforce that message.

On Thursday, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency said he is not convinced that carbon dioxide from human activity is the main driver of climate change.

"The science behind climate change is clear. It's man made and we need to be taking action," McKenna said.

'Uncomfortable change'

Following McKenna's speech, the president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce described new policies like the province's carbon tax as "uncomfortable change" for Albertans because of the newness and the current economic environment.

"The key is that moving towards a cleaner future has a tremendous economic opportunity, but the one thing we have to get right is the policy, regulatory and incentive framework to enable that to happen," Adam Legge said.

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