Climate Change Blog Series: Highlights from the Leaders’ Statement on a North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership

Climate Change Blog Series: Highlights from the Leaders’ Statement on a North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership

This is the ninth post in the Environmental Law Centre’s new blog series exploring climate change law in Canada. This blog series provides updates on climate change law developments and includes insights from our related law reform research. This blog series is generously funded by the Alberta Law Foundation.

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Following their historic meeting late last month, Prime Minister Trudeau, President Obama and President Peña Nieto issued a Leaders’ Statement on a North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership (the “Statement”).  The Statement represents a commitment by the countries to create an enduring partnership and action plan to set North America on a path to a more sustainable future.  Several matters are addressed in the Statement:

  • advancing clean and secure power,
  • driving down short-lived climate pollutants,
  • promoting clean and efficient transportation,
  • protecting nature and advancing science, and
  • showing global leadership in addressing climate change.

 

The Statement provides guiding principles and goals for joint, coordinated efforts by Canada, the US and Mexico on each of these matters.  This blog provides some highlights from the Statement on each subject matter.

Advance clean and secure power

The Statement indicates a commitment to advancing clean energy and North American integration of energy resources.  This includes the development of cross-border transmission projects and broad energy systems integration.  It also includes strengthening the reliability, resilience and security of the North American energy grid.

As a concrete goal, the countries commit to achieving 50% clean power generation by 2025 (clean power includes renewables, nuclear, and carbon capture and storage technologies).  This is complimented by a commitment to reduce demand through improved energy efficiency.

Drive down short-lived climate pollutants

The focus of this commitment is the reduction of methane, black carbon (soot) and hydrofluorocarbon emissions.  With respect to methane, there is a concrete goal of reducing emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40% to 45% by 2025. The countries agree to develop national methane strategies and to implement federal regulations for existing and new sources of methane as soon as possible to achieve the target.  As well, steps will be taken to reduce methane emissions from landfills and the agriculture sector.

With respect to black carbon emissions, the countries aim to reduce the emissions from industry and agriculture through technical support and information-sharing on best practices, strategies and methodologies.  In addition, there is a commitment to reduce black carbon from new heavy-duty diesel fuel vehicles to near zero levels continent-wide by implementing aligned, world-class, ultra low-sulphur diesel fuel and HDV exhaust air pollutant standards by 2018.

With respect to hydrofluorocarbons, the countries propose to adopt a Montreal Protocol hydrofluorocarbons phase-down amendment in 2016.

Promote clean and efficient transportation

The Statement contains a trilateral commitment to reduce energy consumption, and GHG and air pollutant emissions from motor vehicles. In addition, there are commitments to reduce maritime shipping emissions and international aviation emissions.  The countries also commit to support the implementation of green freight practices.

Protect nature and advance science

The Statement indicates that the countries will take actions designed to mainstream conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity across diverse sectors.  In so doing, they will foster the incorporation of traditional knowledge and gender responsiveness.  In addition, the countries commit to protect migratory species, strengthen cooperation on invasive alien species, and to combat wildlife trafficking.  The countries will enhance their cooperation on ocean management.

Show global leadership in addressing climate change

In order to become global leaders in climate change action, the countries commit to enhance their domestic adaptation efforts and resilience to climate change.  By phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and imposing stringent domestic regulations on fuel efficiency, the countries hope to encourage robust action by the other G-20 countries.  As well, the countries propose to become global leaders by promoting a secure, affordable, accessible and clean energy future and by promoting a just transition to a clean energy economy.

We are encouraged by the commitment to a coordinated approach to climate change by Canada, the US and Mexico. However, with the exception of reducing methane emissions by 40% to 45% and achieving 50% clean energy production by 2025, the Statement provides little in the way of concrete goals.  We need strong federal leadership in Canada to address climate change and to achieve the commitments made in the COP Paris Agreement (see previous post).  This includes concrete measures for the reduction of GHG emissions, for the improvement of resilience and adaption to the impacts of climate change, and for a just transition to a green economy.

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