President Barack Obama is "courageous" for tackling global warming, Canada’s environment and climate change minister Catherine McKenna said on Wednesday, defending the White House following a surprise court ruling that puts its clean power plan on ice.

“We certainly see President Obama as a climate champion,” McKenna said, following a speech at a conference hosted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on sustainable communities. “He’s been very courageous in what he’s done and we will continue to work together.”

McKenna made the comments following a court decision that blocked implementation of Barack Obama’s plan to clean up carbon pollution from dirty coal-fired power plants.

Video by Mike De Souza

The 5-4 Supreme Court ruling will delay the plan, pending further review by the American justice system. It was prompted by a legal challenge spearheaded by the coal industry and some states that were opposed to Obama’s proposal.

Power plants are the largest major source of emissions in the United States, accounting for one third of the country’s domestic heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the White House has estimated.

McKenna declined to comment in detail, deflecting a follow up question about whether she supported Obama’s recent proposal to introduce a $10 tax on each barrel of oil to be paid by oil companies to reduce carbon pollution.

“I’m not going to talk about specific policies that the United States is promoting,” she said. “I just think that they are serious about tackling climate change and so are we. We want to work in partnership with them.”

In Canada, McKenna and the federal Liberal government have also proposed to introduce a plan to make polluters pay for carbon emissions, in partnership with the policies introduced by the provinces and territories.

McKenna's comments coincided with the release of a new report showing a large gap for Canada to fill in order to meet its own international commitments to tackle climate change.

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