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What Did the "Three Amigos" Just Commit To? (Hint: Lots of Renewables)

Don't these guys look happy?
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (center) welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (left) to Ottawa on June 29. | Image credit: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau via Twitter

In the spirit of "showing your work" in progress, I'm posting some info on the big new clean economy agreement announced by the so-called "three amigos" -- i.e., the leaders of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

I'm working on an article about the ramifications for business, but just wanted to post here a summary of what the countries are committing to and some analysis I ran on what the renewables commitment really means. You can read the full announcement, but the big takeaways from an agreement that covered a lot of ground are as follows:

  • 50 percent clean power generation by 2025
  • Aligning appliance, equipment, and vehicle fuel efficiency standards
  • Further integrating the electric grid across borders to build resilience and security
  • Pursuing policies that meet the global 2-degree warming limit and even the newer 1.5-degree goal that came out of the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015
  • Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, and calling on G-20 to do the same
  • Reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2025

There were many more interesting elements of the agreement also -- see more below the spreadsheets. My main point here is to look at the numbers on the renewable commitment and what it implies for the U.S. energy system. Here's the mix of energy generation by country. I calculated roughly the amount of clean energy already being generated in each, yielding 38.7 percent of total (the news reported 37 percent, so I'm in the ballpark). So for the continent to hit 50 percent by 2025, I think the U.S. has to go from 33 percent today to 46 percent. I'll talk more about what this means in my article next week. But the second image here shows how much wind or solar you'd need to get there. If we added only wind, for example, we'd have to build roughly 3 times as much as we build over the last decade (assuming you shut down a commensurate amount of fossil fuel supply).

You can download this spreadsheet and play with the assumptions (like whether there will be any growth in energy generation in the countries). 
Download Clean Economy Scenario File

FYI, the agreement touched on many other areas, including...

  • Creating new regulations and reduction plans for methane from oil and gas, but also agriculture, waste management, and food waste
  • Buying more clean vehicles for government fleets
  • Collaborating to reduce marine shipping emissions
  • Supporting multiple elements of the Paris accord, including developing longer-term low-GHG development plans and increasing transparency (while only vaguely mentioning carbon markets which imply a price on carbon or cap and trade)
  • Integrating systems for early detection of natural disasters and protecting oceans.
  • Driving businesses to reduce energy use through adoption of voluntary ISO 50001 standards.
  • Sharing geospacial information on infrastructure and renewable resources (e.g., solar resource maps)
  • Reducing and recovering food waste
  • Driving down black carbon emissions from new heavy-duty diesel vehicles to near-zero levels continent-wide by implementing aligned, world-class, ultra low-sulphur diesel fuel
  • Deploying renewables to remote communities as alternative to diesel, coal, or firewood
  • Protecting habitat for Monarch butterflies, migratory birds, and pollinators while collaborating to combat invasive species on a continent-wide basis
  • Jointly researching best practices and technologies for priority areas like methane reduction, energy storage, and building energy efficiency.

(Andrew's book, The Big Pivot, was named a Best Business Book of the Year by Strategy+Business Magazine! Get your copy here. See also Andrew's TED talk on The Big Pivot.
This post was originally published on Andrew Winston's blog on July 1, 2016. If you enjoyed it, you can sign up for his RSS feed, or by email. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewWinston).


Andrew Winston is a globally recognized expert on how companies can navigate and profit from the world’s biggest environmental and social challenges. His first book, Green to Gold, sold over 100,000 copies in seven languages. Inc Magazine included Green to… [Read more about Andrew Winston]


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