United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have announced their intention to join forces in the fight against man-made climate change. As part of a whole raft of new initiatives, the two leaders announced that they want to focus on a number of different aspects, including increasing the protection of the Arctic, cutting methane emissions, and most importantly, ratifying the Paris commitments.
The trip is actually the first time in almost 20 years that a Canadian head of state has made an official visit to the U.S., and the event has been befitting of such a special occasion. The relationship between the nations was described by Trudeau as akin to “siblings,” and much has been made of the President and PM’s close and friendly relationship. But the two were meeting for much more serious matters, not least to discuss how the two nations can work together on fighting climate change.
“I’m especially pleased to say that the United States and Canada are fully united in combatting climate change,” President Obama announced during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Trudeau in the White House's Rose Garden. “We are focusing on making sure that the Paris agreement is fully implemented and we’re working to double our investments in clean energy research and development. The more aligned we are, the more we can shape the international agenda to meet these challenges.”
The two revealed a joint initiative between the nations on a range of actions to meet their commitments made in Paris last year. These have included joining together the U.S. and Canadian carbon markets, to cap methane emissions from the oil and gas sector – which are the world’s largest industrial methane source – and reduce them by 45 percent of 2012 levels by 2025, as well as investing in new clean energy research and development, and protecting indigenous communities who are bearing the brunt of a rapidly warming Arctic. If they lead the fight, they hope that other nations will be quick to follow.
They have also argued that tackling climate change is not just good for the environment, but good for the economy too. “[The Paris] agreement is both a symbolic declaration of global cooperation on climate change, as well as a practical guide on growing our economies in a responsible and sustainable way,” said Prime Minster Trudeau. “Canada and the U.S. have committed to signing the agreement as soon as possible.” While 197 nations committed to the targets set in Paris, it now requires at least 55 percent of them to sign them into law, and Obama and Trudeau hope to lead on this and do so as quickly as possible.
The two leaders hope that by joining forces, they can rally the other G20 nations to join the cause. Obama’s renewed commitments go in the face of the sometimes harsh Republican opposition to any policies to tackle climate change. “This is going to be a big problem for everybody,” said Obama. He then went on state that as wealthier nations, the U.S. and Canada will probably be able to adapt, but that they were also responsible for the situation in the first place. “If we don’t agree, if we’re not aggressive, if we’re not far-sighted, if we don’t pool our resources around the research and development and clean energy agenda that is required to solve this problem, then other countries won’t step up and it won’t get solved.”