President Obama is not acting like a lame-duck president. He recognizes the grave threat posed by climate change. The subject will remain a primary concern of his government’s foreign policy.
Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced a US/China Agreement on climate change. The Agreement does not introduce new measures limiting GHG emissions. Rather it elevates, extends and gives international recognition to existing policies in both the US and China. The result is that countries that are climate change laggards can no longer point to China or the US as a justification for doing little.
What the China and the US have agreed to is not sufficient to keep the world within the 2° temperature increase that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognizes as safe.
Obama now must confront the new Republican controlled Congress, which may attempt to stymie the 2025 reduction target in the Agreement. Republican Senator Jim Inhofe , who will be the Chair of the incoming Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, called the Agreement a “non-binding charade”.
Canada is one of the climate change laggards.
The Globe & Mail noted that the Canadian Government has tied its climate change policies to similar policies adopted by the US. Canada adopted the US reduction target as its Copenhagen target. So far the US is on track to meet that target but Canada is not.
Assuming that the anticipated Republican opposition does not minimize the Agreement, there will be pressure on our Government to enact regulations limiting GHG emissions from the tar sands. If these regulations are introduced in the 2015 election year, will Canadian voters keep in mind that these regulations were first promised by then Environment Minister John Baird nearly eight years ago? And promised again for 2013 by Peter Kent when he was Environment Minister?