Obama, Harper, Nieto Talk up Climate Action Amid Keystone Uncertainty

Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama, left, Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico's president, and Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister, right, after a news conference at the North American Leaders Summit meeting in Toluca, Mexico, on Feb. 19, 2014. Close

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Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama, left, Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico's president, and Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister, right, after a news conference at the North American Leaders Summit meeting in Toluca, Mexico, on Feb. 19, 2014.

Bloomberg BNA – President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cited a shared concern for addressing climate change and pledged to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during a Feb. 19 summit of North American leaders in Toluca, Mexico.

Obama said the three countries will work together to adopt and meet new fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks, and he said Harper agreed to work with the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We do have to point to the future and show leadership so that other countries who will be the main emitters fairly soon—China, India, other emerging markets—so that they can look at what we're doing and we have leverage over them in terms of them improving their practices as well,” Obama said.

Immediate action on climate change is necessary because the effects already are being felt through events like extreme weather, and climate change will have devastating impacts on the economy and environment, Obama said.

Climate change “has to affect all of our decisions at this stage, because the science is irrefutable,” Obama said. “It has the potential of displacing people in ways that we cannot currently fully anticipate, and will be extraordinarily costly.”

While the topic of the Keystone XL pipeline arose during the summit, Harper and Obama said “privately what both have already said publicly” on the project, according to the White House. At the news conference, Obama defended the State Department's review of the proposed pipeline (see related story in this issue).

Obama's comments on the need for international action come as senior administration officials have intensified their rhetoric on the issue in recent weeks. Secretary of State John F. Kerry touted the Obama administration's efforts to address climate change and committed to further action on the issue with China during a trip through Asia.

Energy Leaders Summit

The three leaders also said their energy ministers will meet later in 2014 to discuss opportunities and strategies for “energy efficiency, infrastructure, innovation, renewable energy, unconventional energy sources, energy trade, and responsible resource development,” according to a joint statement following the summit.

Harper said the U.S. and Canada share “similar targets at the international level” for greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and said both nations “cooperate in several sectors in terms of emissions reductions.”

Mexico, Canada and the U.S. also agreed to continue work toward an “ambitious and inclusive” international agreement on climate change in 2015 and vowed to continue efforts to phase down the use of highly potent hydrofluorocarbons.

After the conclusion of the summit, Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced $2.25 million (C$2.5 million) to establish the Canada-Mexico Climate Change Cooperation Platform. The funds will be used to assist in modelling, tracking and mitigating the effects of climate change, according to Environment Canada.

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