According to a Tuesday report from the Toronto Sun, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s trip to advise the Chinese Communist Party on environmental issues cost upwards of $140,000, with his airfare alone for the three-day trip amounting to $15,000.
In August, the minister attended a Beijing conference on environmental sustainability with a Canadian delegation. He was the first Canadian minister to visit China in four years.
Guilbeault was criticized at the time for seeking cooperation with China on climate issues despite the fact that China has never ‘gone green’ and its emissions keep rising. China built the equivalent of two coal-fired electricity plants per week last year, according to the Sun. The Communist country is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, according to the CBC.
The conference was a meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), which Canada helped to establish in the early 1990s. Guilbeault serves as executive vice-chair of the CCICED’s executive committee.
Conservatives have called on Guilbeault to quit the CCICED given China’s record on human rights and reports that indicate the government has interfered with the past two Canadian federal elections.
“We will confront them when we have to confront them,” the minister said at the time. “But we will also cooperate on issues like climate change and nature.” He called the Conservatives’ position hypocritical given that the former environment minister Peter Kent, a Conservative, held the same position on the council. Guilbeault argued that cooperation with China is necessary in order to combat climate change.
“This organization is an arm of the Communist Party of China, the oppressive political machine that rules China, has engaged in economic warfare with Canada and engaged in hostage diplomacy by seizing two of our citizens,” the Sun noted.
Guilbeault attended the conference with nine other people at a cost of at least $140,073 — full costs are not yet available. A recent response to an order paper question regarding the minister’s own carbon emissions from his travel revealed that Environment and Climate Change does not track such information.
While in China, Guilbeault did not make public comments about a need for China to cap emissions or work towards green energy. Though, the minister did have time to disparage a Canadian energy company from the conference:
“To see the leader of a great Canadian company say that he is basically disengaging from climate change and sustainability, that he’s going to focus on short-term profit, it’s all the wrong answers,” Guilbeault told The Canadian Press in an interview.
Guilbeault was referring to Suncor, which said in a quarterly earnings call that it was recommitting to the oilsands, that there were profitable assets there, while also committing the company to go carbon neutral by 2050. That wasn’t good enough for Guilbeault, who said those comments made him more convinced than ever that he needs to regulate the oil industry.
While in the United Arab Emirates for the COP28 climate summit, Guilbeault has also announced new emissions caps on Canadian oil and gas. His department further announced new methane regulations for beef cattle.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault proudly announces "even more ambitious" emissions regulations at the UN's COP28 climate conference. "We're now aiming for at least a 75% reduction for the oil and gas sector by 2030 in Canada." https://t.co/RPFfbxm6px pic.twitter.com/ayY7YHh39v— Rebel News (@RebelNewsOnline) December 4, 2023