This article examines some of the problems that would be created for Canada if Donald Trump’s desire to reverse climate-change policies established by the Obama administration is realized.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues, politics

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What reversals is Trump pursuing?
  • What effect will these possible changes have?
  • How will they make things more difficult for Canada?

New Terminology:

Clean Power Plan

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Prime Minister Trudeau has come under criticism lately because of his stand favouring the construction of oil pipelines. Many argue that this stance is in contradiction of his stated environmental protection goals and initiatives, including the establishment of a national carbon tax system. President Trump’s stated goals include encouraging production and consumption of coal, oil and natural gas by cutting regulations and rolling back the Clean Power Plan of Barack Obama. This, coupled with suggested corporate tax cuts, threatens the environment and creates a competitive edge for American companies, putting Canada at a disadvantage. Nevertheless, Canada remains steadfast in its efforts to maintain the Paris climate summit agreements and to work with other countries to address the challenges posed by greenhouse gas emissions. This lesson will have the students study the challenges presented by the Trump administration’s actions and to suggest what Canada’s response should be.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students if they think that Prime Minister Trudeau is being inconsistent when he talks about efforts to address climate change and yet approves of oil pipeline construction.
  • Get their reactions to this question and then determine from the class their level of support for Trudeau in his efforts to address climate change and reduce GHG emissions.
  • Having done this, ask the students to compare the climate change actions of Prime Minister Trudeau to those of President Trump.
  • Compile a list of the students’ responses.
  • By referring to the list, ask the students if they believe that Trump’s actions are creating any problems for Trudeau’s action plan on carbon reduction.
  • Once they have responded to this question provide the students with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Once they have read the article indicate to them that they are going to be assigned a role- playing situation which will involve a writing assignment and give them the following task:

“You are the speech writer for Prime Minister Trudeau. You have just completed a meeting with him during which you discussed the criticism he has been receiving for his stance on pipelines and the problems that Trump’s actions are creating for him. He is to give an important national address in a few days both to address the criticism he has been receiving and to outline what steps he is prepared to take to address Trump’s actions. Write that speech.”

  • Allow the students the remainder of class time to work on their assignment and indicate that it is to be completed for homework.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • During the next class select some students to read their speeches and, after each one, discuss the ideas presented with the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  1. Explain the apparent discrepancy in Trudeau’s position.
  2. Outline some of the challenges presented by proposed American actions on climate change.
  3. Offer ideas as to what Canada should do in response to those American proposals.

Confirming Activity:

  • Once the presentations and discussions have been completed, allow the students time to reconsider their written speeches, make any revisions they now consider appropriate and prepare their final copy for submission for evaluation.