Thursday, March 10, 2016

U.S., Canada Pact Targets Lesser Known Climate Impacts

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) during the arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington March 10, 2016. (Credit: Reuters) Click to Enlarge.
Just three months after the world united on climate action and reached a high-profile United Nations agreement in Paris to curb warming, the U.S. and Canada on Thursday announced a bilateral climate agreement.

The announcement was historically significant: both nations are in the throes of newfound commitments to protect the climate following decades of defiance in the face of calls for industrialized nations to slow global warming.  The agreement also emphasized environmental protections in the Arctic, where melting ice is creating new opportunities for shipping and oil drilling.

Also of note is the agreement’s emphasis on lesser-known threats to the climate.  The neighborly arrangement will see the North American fossil fuel heavyweights jointly tackle some of the most profound yet least-discussed climate problems vexing humanity.

Not surprisingly, the “joint statement on climate, energy, and Arctic leadership,” released by the offices of President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, outlines commitments to accelerate the growth of clean energy and to implement the Paris Agreement.  But it also goes deeper into the gritty details of climate policy than that.  Here’s how:

The U.S. and Canada committed on Thursday to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.  To do this, both countries said they will begin regulating methane pollution from both new and existing wells and pipes.

“The EPA will be taking some immediate steps to fulfill that commitment,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters on Thursday.
The most glaring holes in the Paris climate agreement are related to international shipping and aviation.  Both are major polluters that often operate outside of the normal pollution jurisdictions of national governments.

On Thursday, the U.S. and Canada said they would work together to plug one of these holes — that of the aviation industry.  The industry is already one of the world’s biggest polluters, and its greenhouse gas emissions could quadruple by 2040, compared with 2010 levels.

The leaders of the countries will “work together and through the International Civil Aviation Organization,” a United Nations body headquartered in Montreal, to “reduce emissions from international aviation by fostering technological and operational advancements,” the joint statement said.  They will plan to adopt a “carbon offset measure” this year for international flights.
Pollution from Trucks
Canada and the U.S. pledged to work together and with other countries “to encourage robust leader-level” commitments to improve the environmental performance of heavy-duty vehicles through the G-20, which is a forum of influential countries.

Read more at U.S., Canada Pact Targets Lesser Known Climate Impacts

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