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.





Reader Comments

5 Replies to “Canada and Mexico Aren’t Waiting for Us”


    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.” Statement by President Eisenhower in his 1961 Farewell Address to the Nation.

    Eisenhower’s statement speaks for itself, emphasizing the Power of Money can dominate our scholars. His Farewell Address is best known for advocating that the nation guard against the potential influence of the military-industrial complex which has the ability to dominate science-based public policy by what Ike called a “scientific-technological elite.” A grave warning that our intellectual establishment chose to ignore it at our rapidly increasing peril.

    A consequence of this reality has been our failure to produce fusion power generators before the end of the 20th century, as predicted by Edward Teller who founded Berkeley’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the 50s.
    This cultural failure has resulted in our inability to prevent out of control global warming consequences we are experiencing today.

    The paramount question still remains:
    “Can We Adapt in Time?”

    Or have we indeed failed to adapt in time, left with impotently pointing fingers at politicians: “— under Trump, the U.S. risks falling behind other countries on this front”?

    Posts like this one appear to be proving that we have produced one more failure for politicians and intellectuals to meet the challenges of change that Will and Ariel Durant documented have destroyed so many other civilizations, as we fail to learn from the lessons of history one last time because academics refuse to join together to inform, educate and motivate We The People to demand actions before we run out of opportunities to save our civilization.

    1. Anthony said;
      “…….The paramount question still remains: ‘Can We Adapt in Time?’ ………”

      Dear Anthony
      Good question. About 30 years ago, back when it was “global warming,” I made a personal commitment to adapt and I am glad I did. Over the years I had a lot of fun helping other people adapt. In 2016, we made major progress as a nation towards adapting to “climate change” and now we know it was the right decision. It’s never too late to adapt and never will be. Do the right thing, adapt and be happy, its easy and doesn’t cost a lot of money.
      Have a good day.

      1. BQRQ, thank you for your personal commitment to adapt, a commitment that is especially admirable since you have been “helping other people adapt” for about 30 years.

        Now our academics must join together to do what they are experts at doing by informing, educating and motivating all peoples to implement and demand actions to adapt, especially since climate changes in California, the United States, and around the world are already out of control and have become the gravest threat to our civilization in its history.

  2. Dan, as you conclude: “All this is just another reminder that under Trump, the U.S. risks falling behind other countries on this front.”

    But the most Inconvenient Truth of all is that far too many United Nations members have been corrupted by their own interests, and the IPCC has been incompetent at motivating the peoples of the earth, hockey stick graphs for average global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide have already been out of control long before Trump came along,

    So as long as far too many scholars and scientists remain dominated by the Power of Money that President Eisenhower gravely warned us about in 1961, and the academic community refuses to “take on the sort of complications and impurities that come from being public” as Richard Hofstadter warned us in 1963 (as quoted by Nicholas Dirks in 2013), the future of the human race is hopeless.

    Unless Legal Planet convinces the academic community to join together to inform, educate and motivate the rest of us mere mortals to demand actions today!

    1. Activist Mother Jones’ war cry says it best:
      “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

      Too bad we don’t any leaders like her today, to organize the academic community to join together to inform, educate and motivate us to demand actions today so we can save the human race from out of control climate changes we are experiencing today.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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