Paris (France) (AFP) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday defended his government’s backing of a controversial pipeline project, saying the world could not afford to choose between the environment and the economy.
In an interview with French business daily Les Echos ahead of a visit to Paris, Trudeau acknowledged that environmentalists were “concerned” by the Trans Mountain pipeline.
But he said, “Canadians and people around the world know that we cannot choose between what is good for the environment and good for the economy.”
“You have to do both at the same time, and above all, you have to fund the transition towards reduced use of fossil fuels.”
On Thursday, the Liberal premier cut short a visit to Peru to try defuse a threatened constitutional crisis over expanding a 1,150-kilometre (715-mile) pipeline to move 890,000 barrels of oil per day from landlocked Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific coast.
Opponents of the pipeline point to the risk of oil spills at sea and say it flouts Trudeau’s commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“We cannot change everything in our economies overnight,” Trudeau said.
“It’s clear that people on the left and ecologists are concerned but there are also people on the right who do not like the idea of a carbon tax.”
He assured that Canada, which will introduce a national carbon tax next year, would meet its targets under the 2015 Paris accord on combatting climate change.
On Monday, Trudeau will hold talks with President Emmanuel Macron at the start of a two-day visit, during which he will also address France’s National Assembly.