The US, Canada, and Mexico have just mirrored the European Union in seeking a continent-wide approach to North American energy and related climate change. According to Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford, “The partnership does not include binding targets, but will enhance cooperation and integrate more climate change-related policies into energy discussions between the countries.”
The North American energy working group met in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. Top-level energy ministers from the three trade partners—Rickford, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and Mexico’s Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquín-Coldwell—will now help their governments coordinate mutually beneficial policies in areas like these:
- Electric grid efficiency,
- Low-carbon clean energy technologies,
- Regulations to control emissions from fossil fuel burners, and
- Climate change resilience.
Rickford also notes that the group’s work would include cooperation on carbon capture and storage technologies, which many consider an expensive, unproven, and time-consuming approach to the greenhouse effect. Nonetheless, the US has some expertise in the area.
All three countries have announced 2030 greenhouse gas emissions targets in anticipation of the Paris international climate negotiations (the UN’s COP21 meeting) this December. Doubtless, some historical controversies–like the fights over the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to the US Gulf Coast’s extensive petroleum infrastructure–will remain, but the intimate new working atmosphere may find ways to soften or bypass them.
However, this alliance does not merit great expectations. Andrew Finn, an associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a nonpartisan global policy think tank, told ClimateCentral, “Having these conversations is good and might set the groundwork for something more ambitious down the road.”