Despite being neighbors and allies, the United States and Canada have had trouble working together on one major issue: climate change. But all that just changed.
With Canada's election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a new priority for combating climate change was ushered in. Previously, Prime Minister Stephen Harper focused mostly on how to expand the oil and gas industry in cahoots with the United States. But now, all of that is gone.
This morning, President Obama and Trudeau held a press conference that opened with Obama citing Canada's importance to the United States. He mentioned the more than 5,000-mile shared border, the largest in the world. He emphasized the importance of the $2 billion in trade and investment the countries swap every day, the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world. And, of course, he emphasized the importance of the 400,000 Canadians and Americans that traverse the border each day. Now, on top of all that, they can add fighting to save the planet.
Since Trudeau entered office there has been a dramatic shift in his country's commitment to protecting the environment. This morning President Obama joined prime minister Trudeau in announcing that they "share a common vision of a prosperous and sustainable North American economy and the opportunities afforded by advancing clean growth," according to a White House statement.
"I will say that the climate relationship with Canada really just ramped up dramatically quickly," U.S. lead climate negotiator Todd Stern said following a state meeting. "The Canadians in Paris were extraordinarily effective."
Together, Canada and the United States will begin tackling the goals that were set out in the historic Paris agreement on climate change. They'll start by reducing methane emissions from the gas and oil sector 40-45 percent by 2025. Those goals mean the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environment and Climate Change Canada will begin regulating emissions from new and existing oil and gas sources.
Another major priority is the Arctic, which is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet. As ice continues to crater and melt, the oceans are becoming more accessible to fishing and drilling. But the two leaders are calling for a binding agreement "to prevent the opening of unregulated fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean."
Along with reducing emissions by the energy industry, the two countries are also going to be collaborating on ways to curb emissions from on-road vehicles, an important step that they hope will spark a global effort
One thing is certain: this duo could have a monumental impact on how world leaders address what is undeniably a global crisis.
Cover photo: Mark Wilson / Getty