Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault said in an op-ed, that Canada-US cooperation is the key to unlocking shared climate success.
Op-ed by Minister Steven Guilbeault, the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change; Photo by Chris Robert on Unsplash
Canadians woke up this week to some good news on the climate front from south of the 49th parallel.
Canada’s biggest trading partner—the United States—has enacted new legislation that will include major funding for new policies that help deliver clean air, clean energy, and green jobs.
This is a big deal for the US, for Canada, and the world. For many like me, who have been advocating for transformational change our whole careers, it gives a great sense of hope.
The deal also underlines the message I carried to Washington last month when I made my first visit to the US capital as Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
My message was clear: climate challenges have never been greater, but equally great are the economic opportunities that come with clean growth. Cooperation between Canada and the United States is key to creating jobs and growing our economies, all while keeping our air clean and our future bright.
Here in Canada, this deal reinforces what we are already doing, including our ambitious Emissions Reduction Plan and over $100 billion in investments in climate and clean technologies. With the US more clearly pursuing a net-zero economy than ever before, this landmark climate legislation opens all kinds of new opportunities for collaboration.
US-Canada environmental collaboration is nothing new, though it may not always attract headlines. Take, for example, the 1991 Canada-US acid rain treaty, which succeeded in substantially cutting sulphur and nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Or consider the unprecedented progress in cleaning up the Great Lakes, which once suffered the consequences of the worst forms of industrial pollution. Through joint action, the United States and Canada have dramatically reduced agricultural, industrial and municipal pollution flowing into the Great Lakes, supported by hundreds of projects that restore aquatic habitats. This is still a work in progress, something our two governments continue to improve upon.
Now, with climate change impacting our day-to-day lives with increasing intensity, there are bold new horizons for joint environmental action.
Zero-emission vehicles and our highly integrated automotive supply chain is one of the most important opportunities that comes to mind. Canada and the United States are already aligned on stringent emissions regulations for cars. And like Canada, California and several other states have set a target date of 2035 for all new car sales to be zero-emission.
One of the great successes of this new U.S. climate legislation is a tax credit for zero-emission cars built with minerals that are extracted or processed in North America, or a country with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement in effect, and have a battery that includes a large percentage of components that were manufactured or assembled in North America. Having “North” written into an “America-first” policy followed tireless work from Team Canada, led by the Prime Minister in his conversations with President Biden.
This strengthening of the North American supply chain gives an added boost to the Critical Minerals Strategy our government initiated in June, which will position Canada as a reliable and responsible source of cobalt, nickel, lithium, and other metals needed for electric vehicle production in both countries. We’re also rapidly developing world-leading battery research and manufacturing, investing in Canadian workers and plants that complement US production as we move into the next phase of the North American auto industry. In 2022 alone, our government has negotiated deals for Canadian manufacturing of everything from hybrids to electric vehicles to batteries that will secure tens of thousands of Canadian jobs and strengthen the entire North American electric vehicle supply chain.
When Canada and the United States continue to work together, our climate and environment can only benefit. We are at a critical juncture for our country, for the continent, and the world. The climate crisis is real, it’s here, but so are the opportunities for positive, sustainable improvements that power a healthy environment and a healthy economy.