The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico will pledge Wednesday to source half their overall electricity with clean power by 2025, according to individuals briefed on the decision.
The commitment — which will be a joint one, rather than an individual commitment by each nation — represents an aggressive target given the current reliance by the United States and Mexico on fossil fuels for much of their electricity supply. Roughly 59 percent of Canada’s electricity is generated by hydropower operations, with another 16 percent coming from nuclear plants, so it has already surpassed the targeted benchmark.
President Barack Obama will travel to Ottawa Wednesday to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as part of this year’s North American Leaders Summit. It is unclear how the leaders will define clean energy. Nuclear energy is carbon free and so sometimes classified as clean power, but it is not considered renewable the way solar, wind and other forms of energy are.
The upcoming pledge highlights how collaboration on climate between the United States and Canada has accelerated since Trudeau, leader of his country’s Liberal Party, was elected last fall.
A new report by environmental experts from the United States, Canada and Mexico last week urged the three countries to work more closely on their climate goals in the wake of the international accord finalized last December in Paris.
“For the first time in recent memory, the national governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada are politically aligned on climate change,” the group wrote. “The three countries should take this opportunity to explore and launch coordinated climate initiatives that could propel the shift to clean energy across the continent and — through international leadership — accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution globally.”
Roughly 13 percent of U.S. electricity comes from hydropower and other renewable sources, according to the Energy Information Administration, with another 20 percent stemming from nuclear power plants.
Just 22 percent of Mexico’s electricity generation in 2014 came from non-fossil fuels, according to its government, though leaders there have pledged to raise that figure to 34 percent by 2024.
CBC News reported Monday that Obama would pledge to generate half of U.S. electricity by clean power by 2025, a report that was incorrect.
Asked whether the president was preparing to make an ambitious climate pledge as part of the upcoming summit, White House spokesman Eric Schultz replied, “We do ambitious well at the White House.”