KEY POINTS

  • Trudeau and Biden held their first bilateral meeting
  • Trudeau praised the Biden administration for addressing climate change
  • The Canadian prime minister took a swipe at Trump's decision to leave the Paris accords

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday subtly attacked former President Donald Trump during his first virtual bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. 

During the meeting, which took place virtually due to COVID-19 risks, Trudeau praised the Biden administration for its effort in addressing climate issues. He also took a swipe at Trump, who rolled back environmental regulations and left the Paris Climate Agreement during his term. 

“Thank you again for stepping up in such a big way on tackling climate change. U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” Trudeau said in his opening remarks. 

“And I have to say, as we are preparing the joint rollout and communique from this one, it's nice when the Americans aren't pulling out all references to climate change and instead adding them in. So we're really excited to be working with you on that,” he continued. 

Trudeau’s comments were a clear shot at Trump, who was the only head of state missing at a G-7 summit in France in August 2019. The summit focused on issues concerning climate, biodiversity and oceans. 

In February, a group of G-20 diplomats said the U.S. blocked any mention of climate change among financial leaders. The Trump administration had also refused to accept climate change as a threat to the economy. 

“Usually China blocks as well, but as they are represented at lower level it’s mainly the U.S.,” a G20 diplomat told Reuters

Since he was inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, Biden has reversed many of Trump’s decisions concerning climate change. He also rejoined the Paris accord and re-established the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. 

Biden also canceled the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The project aimed to move heavy crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. While the decision served as a win for environmental groups, it frustrated the Canadian prime minister due to potential economic fallout. 

The White House said the two leaders are expected to announce the establishment of a “high-level climate ministerial.” They also may announce other climate initiatives, including reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured in June 2020, spoke with his Australian counterpart about online platform regulation Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured in June 2020, spoke with his Australian counterpart about online platform regulation Photo: AFP / Lars Hagberg