Canada and Mexico Aren’t Waiting for Us

Like the rest of the world, they’re moving ahead on the climate change issue even without us.

[for unknown reasons, this didn’t post correctly earlier, though it did go out to email subscribers]

Our national government is trying to beat a hurried retreat from addressing climate change. But our neighbors in Canada and Mexico are pressing forward. Both of them need to do more, but nevertheless they contrast very favorably with our own government’s policies. And they have made no bones about their disapproval of Trump’s policies. When he announced his plan to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the Canadian Prime Minister announced that he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision and that “Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change.” In June, Canada and Mexico joined California and New York to form the U.S. Climate Alliance.

Climate Action in Canada.

Canada has an ambitious national carbon-pricing scheme. Here is where Canadian climate policy stands:

Paris Agreement. Canada ratified the agreement. It has pledged to reduce emissions 20% below the 2005 by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

Carbon tax option. One option for provinces is an explicit carbon price (like British Columbia’s carbon tax) or hybrid system like Alberta’s (a carbon tax on fuels plus emissions trading system). The price must start at least $10/ton and rise to $50/ton by 2022.

Emission-trading option. The other option is a cap-and-trade system like Ontario and Quebec. The 2030 cap must satisfy Canada’s 30% national target.

National backup plans. If a provinces fail to implement either of these options, the national government will issue its own backstop plan. This mechanism resembles the use of Federal Implementation Plans under our own Clean Air Act when states fail to submit acceptable State Implementation Plans to achieve air pollution goals. The template for the backup plans resembles Alberta’s hybrid system.

Climate Action in Mexico.

An MIT study reports that Mexico is the world’s tenth largest emitter and is expected to be the world’s seventh largest economy by 2050. Correspondingly, in the absence of vigorous action, its emissions will expand dramatically. (See here for detailed modeling.)According to Climate Action Tracker, Mexico will probably need additional policies to meet its targets and do its share of keeping global warming below 2 °. Here’s where things stand:

Paris Agreement. Mexico is firmly committed to the Paris Agreement. It has pledged to cut greenhouse gases 30% below business-as-usual by 2020 and cut emissions 30% below 1990 levels by 2050, with a more complicated interim target for 2030.

Renewable energy targets. After the Paris climate conference, Mexico passed the Energy Transition Law, which sets targets for clean energy of 25% of electricity generation by 2018, 30% by 2021, and 35% by 2024.

Nuclear. Mexico plans to double its current amount of nuclear energy.

Carbon tax. Mexico has a carbon tax, but a very low one (under $4/ton).

All this is just another reminder that under Trump, the U.S. risks falling behind other countries on tbis front.