Methane Climate Strategy

US Canada
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose for a photo with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2016, as they arrive for a state dinner. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 

I like to see Canada and the US getting along so beautifully.

And, apparently, it is good for the environment. On Thursday March 10, 2016 President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new US-Canada climate strategy on methane. Trudeau pledge-matched an earlier US commitment to reduce oil and gas methane emissions from 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025. This is significant because methane is a dirty greenhouse gas. We tend to focus on CO2 missions… while ignoring the other greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, methane is the second most prevalent GHG emitted in the US and it has 25 times greater an impact than CO2 over a 100 year period. Where does it come from? Well, natural gas leaks would be one – such as the Aliso Canyon gas leak in California that is occurring right now.  That is an extreme example (and one of the worst environmental disasters occurring in North America). Methane is produced in natural gas production, such as fracking, as well as in livestock production, namely beef. The first one is a bit ironic since “natural gas” is often touted as “clean energy.” It isn’t.

Are Trudeau and Obama promising more than they can deliver? Federalism is a problem. What we need is provinces and states to announce methane reduction plans. Thus far, only British Columbia and Alberta have such a strategy in Canada (which is a good start because that is where a lot of natural gas and beef is produced). In the US, California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming have methane reduction plans (or will have soon). So out of 63 possible sub-national jurisdictions (50 states and 13 provinces), 7 have a plan. At least this time around, there is significant leadership on the issue – and agreement between the US and Canada.

Also of note – and material for future posts – Obama and Trudeau also agreed to take action heavy vehicle emissions and maine areas in the Arctic.

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