The US-Canada joint declaration of March 10 on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership represents one of the most significant set of environmental agreements between the US and Canada since coordination on acid rain reduction in the 1980s. It has two interrelated components – fighting climate change, and protection of the Arctic and Arctic peoples and their communities.
To start, both countries endorse the Paris Agreement as a turning point in global efforts to combat climate change and anchor economic growth in clean development, and committed to formal ratification. The leaders also committed to completing mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies pursuant to the Paris Agreement, as called for in the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, as well as bringing Mexico into their working partnership.
To implement their climate change commitment, both countries: reaffirm coordination of transport regulations to 2025 for personal and freight vehicles (all but 2018-2015 heavy freight regulations are in law); agree to explore harmonized carbon markets; work to align energy efficiency regulations; tighten existing HFC agreements; and implement developing country capacity building assistance. Very significantly in terms of near term absolute reductions, the leaders committed to reducing methane emissions by 40-45% below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector. We estimate this as roughly 28 Mt in Canada, one of the largest emissions reduction policies yet pursued; they also jointly endorse the World Bank’s Zero Routine flaring by 2030 initiative, which would further strengthen ambition. Other initiatives include implementation of a carbon standard for aviation, facilitation of integration of renewables on the two countries’ interconnected grids as well as improved security, and acceleration of clean energy and technology innovation.
The joint statement, while subject to uncertainty from the upcoming US election and prospective Supreme Court changes (much US federal climate policy depends on favourable Supreme Court rulings), is a powerful indication of the momentum building behind the Paris Agreement, with direct and measurable near term impact and great potential for the future.