December 21, 2016 / 4:36 PM / 9 months ago

Canada's Trudeau says Trump very supportive of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a meeting of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce in Calgary, Alberta, Canada December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Todd Korol

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was “very supportive” of TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline in their first conversation after the U.S. election.

“He actually brought up Keystone XL and indicated that he was very supportive of it,” Trudeau told an event in Calgary, Canada’s oil capital. “I’m confident that the right decisions will be taken.”

Trudeau, who too supports Keystone XL, said also he saw “extraordinary opportunities” for his country if the United States under Trump steps back from tackling climate change, a move that would make Canada relatively more attractive for green-technology investment.

Trump has said he would approve the 830,000-barrel-per-day Alberta-U.S. Midwest Keystone XL which the Obama administration rejected over environmental concerns.

Trump’s election heartened investors in Canada’s battered energy industry, which has struggled with two years of low prices and long-running concerns about market access. Critics of Trudeau’s Liberals say Canada’s environment policies will make the country less attractive to resource-based investment compared to the United States.

Canada’s Parliament in October ratified the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions, bolstering Trudeau’s effort to tackle them after a decade of inaction by the previous government. This month the Liberal government introduced a landmark national carbon price.

Trudeau, who approved two crude pipeline projects last month, said protecting the environment need not come at the expense of the economy, and that his green policies will create jobs in that area.

“That’s the direction the world is going in,” he told reporters. “We’re much more likely to want to lead the change, to innovate, to be at the forefront of creating solutions.”

Sara Hastings-Simon, clean economy program director at Canada’s Pembina Institute, said the economic gain from Trudeau’s green push will outweigh the potential loss incurred should they cause emissions-intensive companies to leave Canada.

“Clean tech is a very big space, so you start to look at estimates in the trillions for what that looks like in the future,” she said. “As we come to terms increasingly with the need to reduce the environmental impact of everything ... it’s clear that it’s no longer confined to one single industry.”

Reporting by Nia Williams and Ethan Lou; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and James Dalgleish

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