A Continental Climate Strategy Could Be Within Reach

The biggest post-Paris moment may be coming Thursday. That’s when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Obama will meet in the Oval Office and probably sign a continental environment and climate-change strategy.

The agreement is expected to deal with tighter fuel and auto-emission standards and measures to foster innovation such as electric cars, charging stations, self-driving vehicles and ride-sharing apps, according to a story in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest-circulation national newspaper.

An agreement between countries with such enormous energy production and consumption, and with so much global influence, has the potential to be a major step forward in the efforts to tame climate change.

Trudeau heads to Washington with a significant national achievement in hand. Last week he persuaded the country's 10 provinces to accept the concept of putting a price on carbon. "There will be different approaches, but pricing carbon is part of the solution that this country and all of its premiers will put forward," Trudeau told a news conference. His Liberal Party won the election last October on a pledge to do much more than the previous Conservative government to curb GHG emissions.

The national and provincial governments agreed that mechanisms for pricing carbon would take into account each province's specific circumstances. The two sides will present more detailed proposals at a meeting in October.

The Partnership for Responsible Growth (PRG), which is making the case for a U.S. carbon fee, is encouraged by the new leadership from Canada. The more coordination there is between the two nations, the better. If both countries price carbon, trade will be much simpler.

To promote a Northern Hemisphere approach, PRG is co-hosting a two-day conference in late May featuring leading experts from Canada, Mexico, and the United States. It will be conducted under the auspices of the Aspen Institute. Titled “Beyond Paris: The Road toward a North American Carbon Price,” the event will be co-hosted by the Wilson Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

With the EPA’s Clean Power Plan mired in controversy—and with evidence mounting that it will not generate significant GHG reductions—a carbon fee looks more promising by the day. We are urging business leaders and others to take that message to Congress. By making the fee part of a broad tax reform initiative, including a reduction in the corporate rate, Congress can help the United States lead the effort to counter climate change.