Canada, if Trudeau wins, to hit net zero emissions by 2050: minister

Ottawa (AFP) –


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government pledged on Tuesday to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, if re-elected in an upcoming ballot.

The campaign announcement by his environment minister, Catherine McKenna, follows an emotional speech by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg at the UN climate summit on Monday in which she accused world leaders of betraying her generation by failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

"Young people such as Greta Thunberg are driving this debate with their words and their actions," McKenna said in announcing Canada's pledge.

"They are holding us accountable," she said. "Even if their words may be pointed, their message is too important to ignore.

"We're in an election right now, so we can't go to the international community with any pledges about the future.

"But it's up to Canadians to decide in this election whether we keep on moving forward on protecting the environment and building on our climate plan, or whether we go backwards."

The world's top scientists believe long-term temperature rise must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels to prevent runaway warming.

But the level of emissions being released into the atmosphere have risen to an all-time high, triggering global weather hazards from heat waves to intense hurricanes and raging wildfires.

The UN estimates that the world needs to increase its current efforts five-fold to contain climate change.

The summit in New York aimed to reinvigorate the faltering Paris agreement on climate change.

Ahead of the summit, the United Nations issued a release saying 66 countries vowed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, along with 10 regions, 102 cities, and scores of businesses.

This is seen a vital goal in preventing catastrophic longer term damage.

McKenna noted that Canada is warming at twice the global average and its Arctic region at three times the pace, creating an "existential threat" for Inuit peoples of the north.