North American leaders to pledge more reliance on renewables

WASHINGTON – The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico will pledge this week to rely on renewable energy to generate 50 per cent of North America’s electrical power by 2025, White House officials said Monday.

That’s a big jump from last year’s 37 per cent level. But it’s doable through greater efficiency and reliance on solar, wind and other clean energy sources, Brian Deese, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said.

“The transformation of the American energy sector that’s underway is going to continue,” Deese said. “That has been driven by some of the policy choices this president has made, but it’s also being driven by market forces that are bringing down the cost of clean energy at rates that even the smartest analysts weren’t predicting only a couple of years ago.”

Deese said the administration’s effort to reduce power-plant emissions, dubbed the “Clean Power Plan,” is a central component of the effort to get to 50 per cent renewable energy. But the Supreme Court earlier this year blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing the plan until certain legal challenges were resolved.

Obama will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Enrique Pena Nieto during Wednesday’s North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa.

Efforts to curb global warming will be a big part of the agenda. On that front, Mexico will also join the United States and Canada in tackling methane emissions. Earlier this year, Obama and Trudeau committed to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sectors by at least 40 per cent over the next decade from 2012 levels. Mexico is also making that commitment this week, Deese said.

Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities. While methane’s lifeline in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide, it’s much more efficient at trapping heat from the sun.

Canada is already far ahead in reliance on renewable energy at 81 per cent. The United States is at 33 per cent, most of that coming from nuclear plants, while Mexico is at 18 per cent, according to Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Trudeau.


Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.