Press Release

Ahead of Trudeau White House Visit, Environmental Groups Unveil New Proposed “Climate Test”

U.S. and Canadian Advocates Urge Leaders to Adopt a Consistent Climate Policy for New Energy Projects and Policies in Both Countries

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 23, 2016)  – Leading U.S. and Canadian environmental groups urged their countries’ leaders to adopt a new “climate test”  to ensure that proposed energy infrastructure projects and policies are evaluated for their climate impacts, and against the international goal to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The groups unveiled the “climate test” and guiding principles as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares for his first official visit on March 10 to Washington, D.C. for a state dinner and discussions about energy and climate change with President Obama. Both leaders have expressed support for the idea of a climate test – with Obama citing climate leadership in his rejection of Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and Trudeau pledging to include impacts on climate in the new Environmental Assessment process.

The proposed climate test defines what this test should look like and how it can be applied so leaders can assess the viability of new energy infrastructure and policies to make sure they fit within the goals of the international climate agreement reached in Paris in December, which aspires to limit global warming to an increase of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As advocates discussed on a telephone-based press conference this afternoon, the proposed climate test is the logical next step given the climate commitments both Obama and Trudeau made in the Paris climate agreement. It will use the latest climate science to evaluate all proposed energy policies and projects in light of the globally agreed goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“Adopting this new climate test is a critical next step given the climate commitments Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama made to the international community in Paris, as well as to strengthen their relationship after Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,” said Anthony Swift, director of the Canada Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Evaluating energy projects and policies in light of their potential climate impacts can help Canada and the United States transition to cleaner energy as they meet their climate commitments.”

“With this proposed Climate Test, we are rejecting the fossil fuel fatalism that grips energy planners,” said Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director, Oil Change International. “We need to plan for climate success, and to stop listening to the oil industry that tells us we are all doomed to a catastrophic future.”

“In light of rapidly changing climate policy in Canada, the U.S., and globally, it’s essential Canada start measuring policies and investment opportunities against a path that leads to climate safety,” said Dale Marshall, National Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “Strengthened climate and clean energy collaboration between the United States and Canada presents an opportunity to ensure both countries invest in projects that support low carbon prosperity.”

“Canada should model energy scenarios that assess the impact of stronger climate policies at home and abroad, including carbon pricing and regulatory limits on emissions in the fossil fuel sector, like those that will soon exist in Alberta's oilsands,” said Erin Flanagan, Director of Federal Policy at the Pembina Institute. “As Canada and its provinces implement new climate policies, they should bet on others following suit.”

“The Keystone XL pipeline was rejected because it failed the climate test President Obama evaluated it on,” said Lena Moffitt, Director of Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “In applying this test to all future energy infrastructure plans, the U.S. will speed up its transition to clean and renewable energy and begin to leave dirty fuels in the ground.”

The “climate test” proposes that energy infrastructure and policies follow these principles:

  • Energy decisions should be guided by climate science so they fit within a climate–safe future.
  • Decision-makers should keep in mind international efforts to transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources.
  • Environmental review processes should assess the need for energy projects and policies that are consistent with international goals to reduce climate change.
  • Environmental reviews should assess the impact on greenhouse gases from a proposed project or policy, and evaluate the impact on efforts to meet carbon pollution reduction targets.

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