Attending his first trilateral North American Leaders meeting, President Barack Obama pledged cooperation with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada on future emissions trading systems, and building a smart grid across the region for more efficient and reliable electricity inter-connections.
In a Declaration on Climate Change and Clean Energy following their two-day meeting, the leaders said they would develop comparable approaches to measuring, reporting, and verifying greenhouse gas emissions reductions and cooperate in implementing facility-level greenhouse gas reporting throughout the region.
They agreed to share climate friendly and low-carbon technologies and take a regional approach to carbon capture and storage.
In Guadalajara, from left, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mexico President Felipe Calderon, U.S. President Barack Obama. (Photo courtesy Office of President Calderon)
"Nations like the United States and Canada will take the lead by reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and we will work with other nations to cut global emissions in half," Obama said.
These benchmarks were agreed in Italy in July at the meeting of G8 industrial democracies, of which both Canada and the United States are members.
"We recognize the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed two degrees Celsius," the North American leaders declared.
Not a G8 nation, Mexico did participate in the Major Economies Forum in Italy, which approved the same two degrees Celsius goal, but has not yet announced a numeric target for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The North American leaders said they believe their shared vision for a low-carbon North America, "will strengthen the political momentum behind a successful outcome at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting this December, and support our national and global efforts to combat climate change," the three leaders declared.
World leaders will meet at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December to finalize a deal to reduce emissions that will take over when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
"We made progress toward the concrete goals that will be negotiated at the Copenhagen climate change summit in December," Obama told reporters. "And I again want to commend Mexico for its leadership in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and President Calderon for his innovative proposals to help developing countries build clean, sustainable economies."
President Calderon said, "The United States, Mexico and Canada have coincided in the importance to face the repercussions of climactic change. The cost is very high, but the price we shall pay for lack of action is not to be calculated - cannot possibly be calculated."
President Obama listens as Prime Minister Harper makes a point. (Photo courtesy Office of the Prime Minister)
While Prime Minister Harper nearly forgot to mention climate change at the news conference, he recollected himself in time to say, "Given the integrated nature of our economies, we did talk at some length about the importance of working together on a North American approach to climate change and also on doing our best to ensure that in Copenhagen and going forward we reach an effective and genuinely international new world protocol on greenhouse gas emissions."
The three leaders agreed to work together under the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs, and "bring about significant reductions of this potent greenhouse gas."
HFCs, which do not contain ozone-destroying chlorine or bromine atoms, are used as substitutes for ozone-depleting compounds in refrigeration, air conditioning, and the production of insulating foams. Though the HFCs do not deplete the ozone layer, they are potent greenhouse gases.
The North American leaders agreed to cooperate in sustainably managing their lands to minimize the emission of greenhouse gases, including "protecting and enhancing our forests, wetlands, croplands and other carbon sinks, as well as developing appropriate methodologies to quantify, manage and implement programs for emission reductions in this sector."
They agreed to reduce transportation emissions, including by "striving to achieve carbon-neutral growth in the North American aviation sector in the context of global action."
The three countries will pursue a framework to align their energy efficiency standards in support of improved national energy efficiency and environmental objectives.
Finally, the leaders vowed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector, and promote best practices in reducing fugitive emissions and the venting and flaring of natural gas.
The three leaders also discussed economic recovery and trade, border security and immigration, combating drug trafficking, and preparing for a return of the H1N1 flu pandemic.
Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.