Proposals for a North American Climate Strategy

This summit provides a near-term opportunity for the three leaders to explore options for trilateral cooperation.

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In December 2015, more than 190 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, a legally binding pact that aims to limit greenhouse gas pollution and build global resilience to the effects of climate change. The agreement required years of negotiation and tremendous political will, but world leaders now face an even greater task: implementation. In order to fulfill the agreement’s vision of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, countries will need to meet their national climate goals, strengthen those goals over time, and spur progress globally through international forums. In all of these efforts, countries can be more effective acting as allies rather than alone.

For the first time in recent memory, the national governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada are politically aligned on climate change. The three countries should take this opportunity to explore and launch coordinated climate initiatives that could propel the shift to clean energy across the continent and—through international leadership—accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution globally.

Recognizing the strong role that an allied North America could play in the movement to address climate change, a coalition of think tanks in the United States, Mexico, and Canada—including the Center for American Progress, the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, the Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, the Pembina Institute, the World Resources Institute, and Canada 2020—has identified a set of trilateral initiatives that could be both effective and within the power of the three governments to undertake.

On June 29, 2016, President Barack Obama, President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convene for the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa, Ontario. This summit provides a near-term opportunity for the three leaders to explore options for trilateral cooperation—such as the initiatives detailed in this report—and to articulate a coordinated North American climate plan.

Gwynne Taraska is the Associate Director of Energy Policy at the Center for American Progress. Marcela López-Vallejo is an Associate Professor at the Division of International Studies of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico. Sam Adams is the Director of the U.S. Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute. Erin Flanagan is the Director of the Federal Policy Program at the Pembina Institute. Gustavo Alanís-Ortega is the President of the Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental and a professor of environmental law at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Cathleen Kelly is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Andrew Light is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute. Julia Martinez is the Director of Environmental Economics and Climate Change for the EMBARQ Mexico program of the World Resources Institute. Joe Thwaites is a Research Analyst in the Finance Center of the World Resources Institute.