WASHINGTON, DC, March 12, 2016 (ENS) – On the occasion of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first state visit to Washington, he and President Barack Obama Thursday issued a lengthy and detailed statement of joint cooperation on energy development, environmental protection, and Arctic leadership.
This was the first official visit by a Canadian Prime Minister in nearly 20 years.
The two leaders said they regard the Paris Climate Agreement reached in December as “a turning point in global efforts to combat climate change and anchor economic growth in clean development.”
They resolved that the United States and Canada “must and will” play a leadership role internationally in the low carbon global economy over the coming decades, including through science-based steps to protect the Arctic and its peoples.
The two leaders pledged to “respect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples in all climate change decision making” and to continue their cooperation with Mexico on climate and energy actions.
“I’m especially pleased to say the United States and Canada are fully united in combating climate change,” said President Obama at their joint news conference.
“As the first U.S. President to visit the Arctic, I saw how both of our nations are threatened by rising seas, melting permafrost, disappearing glaciers and sea ice,” Obama said. “And so we are focusing on making sure the Paris agreement is fully implemented, and we’re working to double our investments in clean energy research and development.”
Among new steps announced by the two leaders is a goal to reduce emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane from the oil and gas sectors in both countries.
Building on a history of working together to reduce air emissions, Canada and the United States, commit to take action to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, the world’s largest industrial methane source, in support of achieving their international climate change commitments.
The leaders committed to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, and explore new opportunities for additional methane reductions.
Calling this target “ambitious and achievable,” the two leaders invited other countries to join the target or develop their own methane reduction goals.
To regulate existing sources of methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, will begin developing regulations immediately. In April, the EPA will start a formal process to require companies operating methane emissions sources to provide information for the development of standards to decrease these emissions.
Environment and Climate Change Canada will regulate methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas sources by putting in place national regulations in collaboration with provinces/territories, Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders. An initial phase of proposed regulations is set for early 2017.
Building on the U.S.-Canada Air Quality Agreement, both countries will work collaboratively on programs, policies, and strategies, and share experiences on reducing oil and gas methane emissions as they implement their respective federal regulations, beginning this year.
The two leaders committed to jointly endorse the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative, and report annually on progress.
The two countries will strengthen their joint work to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs, a particularly potent set of greenhouse gases used as refrigerants in vehicles and buildings, aerosol propellants, solvents, and fire retardants.
These fluorinated gases were developed to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.
Th HFC pledge furthers the commitment of all governments that are parties to the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement governing the emission of ozone-depleting gases. Last November, at the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dubai, nations committed to address HFCs and work toward an amendment to the Protocol in 2016.
In addition, Obama and Trudeau agreed to limit carbon emissions from international aviation and to create a new climate and science partnership to protect the Arctic and its peoples.
The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen North American energy security, phase out fossil fuel subsidies, accelerate clean energy development to address climate change and to foster sustainable energy development and economic growth.
They pledged to jointly study, identify, and implement options for broad integration, including how to bring more wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy online.
They will align energy efficiency standards and expand shared labeling programs: better align and further improve appliance and equipment efficiency standards by 2020 and expand cooperation on the ENERGY STAR program.
Obama and Trudeau agreed to advance global efforts to accelerate clean energy, leverage participation in Mission Innovation, and strengthen collaboration on clean energy research and development for: reducing methane emissions; improving electrical grids; accelerating electric vehicle development and integration; unconventional oil and gas; carbon capture, use and storage; and, new cutting-edge technologies.
They will develop a joint U.S.-Canadian strategy for strengthening the security and resilience of the North American electricity grid, including against the growing threat from cyber-attacks and climate change impacts.
The two leaders expressed deep respect and trust in their relationship.
Prime Minister Trudeau, 44, leader of the Liberal Party, was sworn in on November 4, 2015. As a new and young leader, Trudeau said he already has “learned a lot” from President Obama.
“He is somebody who is a deep thinker. He is somebody with a big heart but also a big brain,” said Trudeau. “And for me to be able to count on him as a friend who has lived through many of the things that I’m about to encounter on a political stage, on the international stage, it’s a great comfort to me. And it is always great to have people that you can trust, people that you can count on personally, especially when you are facing very big challenges such as what we are doing right now in the United States and Canada.”
Obama said Trudeau’s visit “reflects something we Americans don’t always say enough, and that is how much we value our great alliance and partnership with our friends up north.”
“We’re woven together so deeply – as societies, as economies – that it’s sometimes easy to forget how truly remarkable our relationship is. A shared border – more than 5,000 miles – that is the longest between any two nations in the world. Every day, we do some $2 billion in trade and investment – and that’s the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world. Every day, more than 400,000 Americans and Canadians cross the border – workers, businesspeople, students, tourists, neighbors.”