Green New Deal News

Remember Justin Trudeau's trip to the Aga Khan's private island? Joe Biden's new 'climate czar' John Kerry was there too

OTTAWA—The next U.S. president’s newly-named “climate czar” has a notable holiday connection with Justin Trudeau: they were together on the prime minister’s controversial trip to the Aga Khan’s private island in 2016.

Former American Secretary of State John Kerry was among the spiritual leader’s guests over the holidays that year, as first reported in 2017, and reportedly discussed the looming administration of Donald Trump, who had recently won the 2016 presidential election.

Four years later, Kerry is preparing to oversee President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to fight climate change, just as Trudeau’s Liberal government in Ottawa is making promises to ramp up Canada’s efforts to slash greenhouse gas pollution.

In Canada, this includes new climate “accountability” legislation that was tabled in Parliament last week. The bill would set a legal framework to require the federal government to prepare plans to slash emissions to targets set every five years, beginning in 2030, with the ultimate goal of achieving net zero — when emissions are eliminated or offset by nature or carbon capture technology — by 2050.

The Liberal government has also promised a national strategy to support hydrogen energy development, pumped public dollars to help auto manufacturers make zero-emission vehicles in Canada, and pledged to plant 2 billion additional trees by 2030 and pass legislation to support fossil fuel workers transitioning to other industries.

Much of this lines up with Biden’s promises on climate change. The incoming president has tapped Kerry to oversee plans to spend more than $2 trillion on “climate and environmental justice.” The plan would see the U.S. re-enter the Paris Agreement, the international accord to prevent catastrophic climate change, and pass its own accountability law to ensure it hits net-zero emissions by 2050.

But one point of tension could arise over Biden’s pledge to kill the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project in which the Alberta government has invested $1.5 billionalongside vocal support from the Trudeau government.

A year after his trip to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas, Trudeau told The Canadian Press that he learned Kerry would also be there shortly before he and his family went on the vacation. The prime minister said he and Kerry had coversations that “were very general about the state of the world... expectations around the incoming administration on foreign policy issues.”

Trudeau’s trip, which was initially kept secret, was immediately controversial when it became public because the Aga Khan’s organization receives funding from the federal government. The House of Commons ethics commissioner went on to conclude Trudeau broke Canada’s conflict of interest law by accepting the “gift of hospitality” from the Aga Khan.

Trudeau was later found to have breached the law again during the SNC-Lavalin affair, and is currently being investigated for a third potential breach over his decision to outsource a since-cancelled $544-million program to WE Charity, an organization that paid members of his family tens of thousands of dollars in expenses and speaking fees.


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