Canada welcomes the choice of John Kerry as new U.S. climate envoy but will press Washington not to cancel permits for an oil pipeline he opposes, Ottawa’s ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday.
“We see a huge number of opportunities to work with the Americans on the international stage and also bilaterally on the fight against climate change. So this is good news,” Kirsten Hillman told an event organized by the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.
President-elect Joe Biden this week announced Kerry would be his climate czar, a cabinet-level position. Kerry played an important role in crafting the Paris Agreement on climate but President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the treaty.
Biden has promised to rejoin the climate accord, a move Hillman said was “really excellent.”
But Biden’s focus on the need to do more to curb emissions of greenhouse gases could have big implications for Canada, a major fossil fuel exporter that has never met any of its climate change targets.
One immediate challenge for Canada is Biden’s vow to scrap U.S. permits for TC Energy Corp’s Keystone crude pipeline, a project that would move oil from the province of Alberta to Nebraska.
As secretary of state in 2015, Kerry blocked the project on the grounds it would undermine the fight against climate change, a decision reversed by Trump in 2017.
“Times have changed. The project is not the same project. The company itself … has made enormous innovations,” Hillman later told reporters, noting Canada had imposed a price on carbon and committed to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“There is a place for fossil fuels in an economy that is seeking to have an energy transition,” she said. ” … it is better (for the United States) to get it from us than all the other alternatives.”