Queen’s alum named Canadian ambassador to climate change

University District

MacIntyre tasked with attracting global investors, advancing Canada’s climate agenda abroad

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When speaking about her new role as Canadian climate change ambassador, Jennifer MacIntyre focused on potential: “If you ask about the challenges, I think my brain switches immediately to the opportunity.” 

On June 27th, the seasoned diplomat and Queen’s alumnus MPA ’08, was appointed Canada’s new ambassador for climate change, marking the first time since 2015 that the role has been filled. 

With a rich 15-year career in international relations, MacIntyre has served as Canada’s ambassador to Switzerland, executive assistant to Canada’s ambassador in the United States and as deputy director for Canada’s nuclear security programming in Russia.

Her three-year mandate as ambassador targets the business side of climate action. The role will have her coordinating with Canada’s network of embassies across the globe to attract investors and represent Canadian climate interests abroad.

Since the signing of the Paris Agreement by over 190 countries in 2016, the role of Canada’s ambassador for climate change has taken on a different meaning. 

“Its definitely a new mandate for a new era,” MacIntyre told The Journal, explaining that the agreement has had a “big influence” on her mandate. 

MacIntyre’s appointment comes at an important time for climate action. Assuming the role on the heels of United States President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement — a move that placed them beside Nicaragua and Syria as being the only countries to reject the deal. 

Despite the largely unpopular move south of the border, MacIntyre remains optimistic about working with the American private sector to advance Canada’s climate agenda. 

“What we’re seeing is that many US business leaders are coming forward and have been coming forward, for a number of months, even years, to indicate that they are very serious about climate action,” she said, adding they are “interested in working with countries like Canada.”

Though there is interest among American companies to pursue clean growth, Canadian diplomats and negotiators are certain to face a complicated and uncertain path forward in Washington. 

MacIntyre, however, stressed that her mandate is a global one.

She explained that Canada’s potential for clean growth is what motivates her, citing the World Bank’s estimate of $23 trillion in economic opportunity as the world shifts towards clean technology. 

“The Canadian clean technologies sector is already growing three times faster than every other sector of the economy, so already Canadian businesses are stepping up to take advantage of this economic opportunity,” MacIntyre said.

MacIntyre believes the key to attracting global investors is strong domestic policy that favours clean growth and investment in new high-tech industries.

“When we talk about trade and investment, what we are really looking at is, what’s our value proposition, what makes Canada unique and competitive,” she said. “Global investors who are interested in clean technology are interested in Canada’s climate policies.”

“Not only has the world come together and agreed that it is time to move forward on climate action and clean growth, but Canada is really playing a leadership role.”

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