People, Environment

US, Canada to Finally Join Forces on Climate Change

US, Canada to Finally Join Forces on Climate ChangeUS, Canada to Finally Join Forces on Climate Change

At long last, two countries that share a border will also share a comprehensive plan for climate action.

Serious climate conversations between the US and Canada have been few and far between over the years. This week, the two countries are expected to present a unified front with a climate change agreement, a rare event, given that they have long been on opposite ends of the climate action spectrum.

The two nations’ leaders, US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will announce a series of joint measures this week during a meeting at the White House.

According to The Guardian, the agreement is expected to include pledge to cut up to 45% of methane emissions — a greenhouse gas that is roughly 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide — from oil and gas industries.

During a White House press call on Tuesday, Todd Stern, US special envoy for climate change, said that the meeting would focus on short-lived pollutants like methane, hydrofluorocarbons (potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, aerosols, and air conditioners), and black carbon (a particulate component of soot). Officials also expect the agreement to call for a decrease in diesel fuel and more funding for Arctic climate research, Grist reported.

One major focus for the two Arctic neighbors is addressing warming at the pole, a region which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.

“There’s a kind of canary-in-the-coalmine quality to the Arctic, and it’s important to let people around the world know what’s going on there and the impacts there, which will, in turn, have impacts around the world,” Stern told reporters.

It’s not yet known exactly how far-reaching the terms will be in the expected climate agreement announced this week. But in a town hall hosted by The Huffington Post this week, Trudeau said that the moment was a “nice alignment between a Canadian prime minister who wants to get all sorts of things done right off the bat and an American president who is thinking about the legacy he is going to leave in his last year in office.”

If all goes well, that legacy will finally include climate policy that crosses both country borders and longstanding ideological divides.

The US is the world’s second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide; it has committed to a 26%-28% reduction by 2025 based on 2005 levels. Canada, which is the world’s eighth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, has pledged to cut emissions by 30% by 2030 based on 2005 levels.