Celebrate! Clean Energy Pact for North America

It was amazing watching President Obama give a speech to Canada’s Parliament last week, after which he received a long standing ovation with members cheering, “Four More Years!”

As the UK votes to leave the EU, the US, Canada and Mexico are forging even closer ties. Now that ultra-conservative Harper is replaced by Trudeau as Canadian Prime Minister, a progressive agenda is emerging.

At last week’s “Three Amigos” conference, the three countries announced a continental pact on climate:

To Reach 50% clean energy by 2025, and …

  • Cut methane emissions from oil and gas by 45% by 2015 (from 2012 levels).
  • Enact the same vehicle emission standards across the continent to greatly reduce emissions from transportation.
  • Ratify the Paris Climate Agreement this year. Work together on getting the Montreal Protocol amended to reduce HFC emissions; work with the International Civil Aviation Organization to reduce emissions from airlines.

“For the first time in recent memory, the national governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada are politically aligned on climate change,” says Gwynne Taraska at the Center for American Progress. “When countries work together, you improve the odds of success.”

The process started in February, when the three countries took first steps toward a North American accord on clean energy and climate.  In March, many details were announced: creating a continental smart grid; accelerating innovation in clean energy technologies; ramping up energy efficiency and renewables; phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; protect Arctic biodiversity; and develop continent-wide infrastructure for electric cars.


The Plan

Achieving 50% clean energy quickly is a wonderful plan, but clean energy is defined as renewables and efficiency plus nuclear, hydro and even carbon capture.

Each country doesn’t have to meet the 50% goal (an average will be taken of the three countries) – but the US thinks it can “stretch” to reach it.

As of 2015, the US at about 38% clean energy (13% hydro, 20% nuclear, 5% wind). Canada uses hydro for 59% of electricity and nuclear for 16%, so it well exceeds the goal. Mexico is at around 22% and has a target of 34% by 2024.

“This is a big step forward in the fight against climate change. But let’s be clear: declaring ambitious goals like these, or the ones world governments made in Paris, is not the same as taking real action that scientists say is necessary to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of global warming. To actually reach 50% clean energy by 2025 requires making room for real investment in renewable energy infrastructure by keeping fossil fuels in the ground, says May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org.
That can happen at the stroke of a pen, she adds, noting that President Obama has the authority to halt new fossil fuel development on public lands and waters. Trudeau, of course, has the tar sands to handle.

Read the proposal behind the North American Climate Strategy: http://canada2020.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/NALS-Report-2016.pdf

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