The Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation has issued a series of practical recommendations to the top environment officials of Canada, Mexico and the United States to do more to move North America toward a truly sustainable energy economy.
The recommendations were sent following a public consultation in Calgary, Alberta, on April 24 and 25.
Experts from industry, civil society and academia who participated in Greening North America's Energy Economy recognized that North America is rich in fossil fuel resources, but also acknowledged the long-term danger of continuing current patterns of energy development and consumption in the region. Three clear themes emerged from the discussion:
- The need to ensure long-term availability and security of energy throughout North America with an emphasis on energy self-sufficiency within the region;
- The need to address concerns regarding climate change and the increasing amount of energy invested per unit of energy returned that is required to obtain fossil fuel energy resources; and
- The need to leverage the development of North America's wealth of hydrocarbon energy resources to help move to a prosperous, low-carbon economy.
'If experts and scientists are right about climate change, it is just a matter of time before society will naturally agree to put a price on carbon internationally,' said Mario Molina, Mexican Nobel Laureate and keynote speaker at the forum. 'As this has a high probability of happening, why not get started right away and get ahead of the curve?'
JPAC Chair David Angus summed up the results of the meeting: 'We went to Calgary to listen, consult and promote conversations. What we heard is that to address risks of climate change, the region must find ways to twin the development of those resources with a rapid transition to low-carbon ways to meet North America's long-term energy needs.'
Following the meeting, JPAC called on the CEC Council (Canada's Minister of Environment, the US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Mexico's Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources) to adopt their key proposals as the Council implements the CEC's 2013-2014 Operational Plan and looks toward future priorities under the CEC's 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.
JPAC's Advice to Council document, which includes a full list of recommendations and comments from participants at the Calgary meeting, is available on the meeting page. Presentations, photos and video will also be available there.
JPAC will host its next public meeting on transportation and the environment in Mexico on July 10-11. That meeting will be held jointly with the annual meeting of the CEC Council.