When Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau took office in 2015 as Canada’s prime minister, a top priority was to establish Canada as a global leader on climate change. At the United Nations’ climate summit in Paris that year, Trudeau pledged to cut his country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. Four years later, having survived re-election but with a much-diminished political mandate, Trudeau’s climate ambitions have been severely curtailed.

Meanwhile, south of the border, Democratic presidential candidates, most of whom count aggressive action on climate change as a crucial element of their campaign platforms, would do well to look to Canada as a cautionary political tale that should inform their approaches. Yet they can also look to the recent past—the Obama presidency—for a valuable model of how to make progress.

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