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Department Alleges Guilbeault Leveraged China Trip to Promote Environmental Causes

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault concluded his visit to China on Aug. 31, during which time his department says he advanced environmental issues.

The minister was in Beijing to participate in the annual general meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED).

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) says, in an Aug. 31 statement, that Mr. Guilbeault used the forum to “advance cooperation and ambition on a number of environmental issues,” including the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal in December 2022.

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ECCC says China must be engaged on climate issues, given that it is a major emitter of greenhouse gases.

“Canada will continue to challenge China when needed, while also advancing cooperation on the global threat of climate change,” Mr. Guilbeault said.

The minister also told media, before leaving for China, that the trip could be an opportunity to rebuild diplomatic ties, which have been on ice since late 2018 due to the Meng Wangzhou affair.

Mary Ng was the last minister to visit China in 2019 to attend a World Economic Forum meeting in Dalian, with diplomatic tensions and COVID-19 restrictions complicating official visits afterward.

Global Affairs Canada previously declined to comment on the visit’s diplomatic objectives, deferring to ECCC which, in turn, did not comment on diplomatic issues after the trip.

If the Canadian side has not been very vocal about the trip, the same can be said about the Chinese. Chinese state-controlled outlets did not report anything about Mr. Guilbeault’s input at the forum while giving ample coverage to other executive members of the CCICED.

Mr. Guilbeault is an executive vice chairperson of the body, given Canada is its largest foreign donor, providing it $1.6 million per year. Canada helped set up the CCICED in 1992 through the Canadian International Development Agency.

The CCICED is chaired by China’s Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s top governing body. According to Chinese state media, Mr. Ding reportedly told the forum the regime wants to give the CCICED a “bigger role” on the environmental front.

“Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, China will accelerate the advancement of modernization featuring harmony between humanity and nature,” wrote the China Daily in paraphrasing Mr. Ding.

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