By: Max Creager ~Staff Writer~
Last week, newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama committed to specific policies that would help curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Although Canadian prime ministers in the past had frequently visited Washington, the event marked the first official visit by a Canadian prime minister in 19 years.
The two countries issued a joint statement on climate, energy and arctic leadership to re-emphasize their mutual commitment to the Paris climate agreement and lay out specific goals and policy proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons.
The joint statement also pledges to integrate renewable energy sources into their power grids, align energy efficient standards, accelerate innovation in clean energy technology and advance global efforts to accelerate clean energy.
The U.S. and Canada do $2 billion in trade and investment every day, which is the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world.
“We are focusing on making sure the Paris agreement is fully implemented and we are working to double our investment in clean energy research and development,” Obama said last Thursday at the White House. “Canada is joining us in our aggressive goal to bring down methane emissions in the oil and gas sectors in both of our countries, and together we are going to work swiftly to establish comprehensive standards to meet that goal.”
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Ok.), who sits on the Environment and Public Works Committee, stated that the commitment between the two countries would hurt the energy industry.
“This is the same industry that has been one of the few sources of light driving the president’s anemic economic recovery despite his attempt to extinguish it,” Inhofe said. “The Obama administration is going after a non-existent problem, but we shouldn’t expect anything different from an administration whose stated goal was to ‘crucify’ domestic energy producers.”
However, U.S. climate director Sam Adams at the World Resources Institute stated that cutting methane production would benefit both business and the climate.
“The oil and gas industry wastes more than 9 million metric tons of methane pollution annually, which is enough to power over 6.5 million homes in one year,” Adams said. “Measures to reduce methane leaks from natural gas systems pay for themselves in three years or less.”
With the approaching 2016 election some fear that the focus on climate change between the two nations may be temporary, but Trudeau stated his trust in the American people’s decision and affirmed a commitment to work with the next president of the U.S.
“I’ve constantly returned to President Kennedy’s wise words on our friendship: ‘What unites us is far greater than what divides us,’” Trudeau said. “And as President Obama mentioned earlier, if geography made us neighbors, then shared values made us kindred spirits, and it is our choices individually and collectively that makes us friends.”