Minister pushes for ‘green’ trade deal with Canada

Leuthard said falling oil prices over the past two years had “tangible consequences" for the Swiss hydropower sector Keystone

Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard has called for the renegotiation of a free-trade agreement between Switzerland and Canada and a joint push for a “sustainable green economy”. with agencies

“The Canadians have once again become partners which wasn’t the case before,” Leuthard told an audience at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations on Monday evening. She is currently on an official visit to Canada from October 2-6.

Leuthard, who is also in charge of transport, environmental and communication matters, said Switzerland was keen to develop a strengthened partnership with Canada to build a “sustainable green economy” together.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who took power last November, has promised to do more to protect the environment. On Monday he told parliament that Canada would impose a tax on carbon emissions starting in 2018 as part of its efforts to meet targets set by the Paris climate change accord.

Leuthard said falling oil prices over the past two years had “tangible consequences for our traditional renewable energy sector” [hydropower represents 56% of Swiss energy].

One repercussion of cheap fossil fuel is delays in research and innovation into renewable energy and insufficient investment in less polluting transport, said the Swiss transport minister.

In her speech on Monday, she called for the renegotiation of the existing free-trade deal with Canada, which dates from 2009, to place greater emphasis on the digital economy.

The focus of her visit to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto is on energy and climate policy, as well as on various transport-related issues. She is accompanied by Swiss representatives from the business sector and the scientific community.

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