US, Mexico, Canada to team up on clean energy, methane

Leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada will announce a new joint climate change and energy platform during meetings in Ottawa this week, the White House said on Monday. 

The leaders will, among other things, commit to producing 50 percent of electricity from clean energy sources across North America by 2025. 

Clean energy, for this effort, includes nuclear power, renewables like wind and solar, increasing energy efficiency and deploying technologies like carbon capture and storage for fossil fuel plants, said Brian Deese, President Obama’s senior advisor for climate change. 

The deal is ambitious, but one Deese said is achievable given domestic policies in each of the three countries. In 2015, 37 percent of total power generation across the continent was clean energy, he said. The U.S. gets about 33 percent of its electricity from renewables, hydropower and nuclear, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. 

“The goal of this partnership is really to bring together all of the work that has happened between our respective countries over the past couple of years,” Deese said.

“We are committing to announcing a goal that would substantially increase North American clean energy generation.” 

The United States does not need to hit 50 percent on its own in order for the continent to achieve that goal, but Deese said that is a “stretch goal” of the Obama administration. 

“That is not necessary to hitting this North American goal, but it is a stretch goal that we think the U.S. can accomplish,” he said.

The commitments come at the tail end of the Obama administration, which has been marked by an increased focused on international cooperation on climate issues. Since a new president will take over next January, Obama’s successor will be tasked with further implementing the energy goals. 

But whether the next president is presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump, Deese said he thinks clean energy deployment will continue in the U.S.

“I think that the transformation of the American energy sector that’s underway is going to continue, and that that has been driven by some of the policy choices that this president has made, but it’s also being driven by market forces that are bringing down the cost of energy,” he said. 

As part of the climate deal, which Obama will help announce on Wednesday, Mexico will also join American and Canadian efforts to reduce methane emissions by between 40 percent and 45 percent by 2025.

Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that effort earlier this year, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will join it as well this week. 

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