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US, Canada and Mexico commit to 50% carbon-free power by 2025

29 June 2016

The US, Canada and Mexico have put climate change at the centre of efforts to deepen the North American alliance, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector, boost the development of power generation from renewables, nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and energy efficiency technologies by 2025, as well as building new cross-border transmission lines.

The leaders of North America at the summit
The leaders of North America at the summit

US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto made the commitment at the “Three Amigos” North America Leader’s Summit in Ottawa, Canada on June 28 where they unveiled a commitment to see half of the continent’s electricity generated by clean sources by 2025.

The countries plan to meet that goal with a range of aggressive domestic initiatives and policies, including Mexico’s Energy Transition Law and new Clean Energy Certificates, the U.S. Clean Power Plan and five-year extension of production and investment tax credits, and Canada’s actions to further scale-up renewables, including hydro.

The goal will also require collaboration on 5,000 MW of cross-border transmission projects to facilitate deployment of renewable power. The projects include six transmission lines currently proposed or that are under permitting review, such as the Great Northern Transmission Line, the New England Clean Power Link, and the Nogales Interconnection.

It will involve a joint study of the opportunities and impacts of adding more renewables to the electric grid on a continental basis, and the “greening” of government operations to 100% clean energy by 2025. Measures also include aligning 10 appliance efficiency standards or test procedures by 2019, the White House said in a statement on June 29.

The three countries also committed to reduce their methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40% to 45% by 2025, pledging to develop and implement federal rules to slash emissions from existing and new sources in the “oil and gas sector as soon as possible.”

The White House said the goal is necessary because a delay in cutting carbon emissions could cause the mean global temperature to stabilize at 3 degrees C above preindustrial levels instead of 2 degrees, citing estimates from the White House Council of Economic Advisers. That delay will induce annual additional economic damages of approximately 0.9% of global output, it said.

The Obama administration said that a “dramatic transformation of our energy system is underway,” which will help all three countries meet the energy target.

“The share of the share of non-hydropower renewables has increased from roughly 3% in 2008 to 7.3% in 2015. Wind and solar energy alone currently make up over 5% of generation and were less than 1.5% in 2008. This growth is expected to continue apace, with the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projecting wind and solar generation to nearly double by 2025 under business as usual,” it said.

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