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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Climate Change: An Opportunity for a Bilateral Approach

Report by Michael Lister

In this report from a conference organized by the Public Policy Forum and the Woodrow Wilson Center, Michael Lister highlights conclusions regarding bilateral Canada-US climate change policies. It summarizes the presentations of keynote speakers and compiles conference attendees’ comments and criticisms. In particular, the report notes that the United States and Canada’s shared geographical and economic proximity could be leveraged to reach a bilateral response to climate change.

Lister’s report presents four conclusions taken from the conference. First, Canada is at risk of becoming a “policy taker” on climate change. At this time, the US federal government has five bills before Congress on climate change, and US states are also taking the initiative on this issue. In contrast, Canadian provinces have been reluctant to engage with US states, and the federal government’s policy has been in political turmoil. Consequently, the author explains, the opportunity for bilateralism is shrinking particularly as the US focuses on Europe and China. Second, Lister points out that emission trading is the policy tool of choice on both sides of the border. However, Lister identifies challenges with what he terms a “patchwork system” where each state, province, and nation sets different standards. According to Lister, the lack of a precedent for this type of exchange is problematic. In addition, he contends climate change legislation tends to be long on rhetoric and short on application.

Third, Canada and the US need a shared vision of a clean energy future. Lister explains that developing a clean energy future for Canada and the US will require collaboration and coordination regarding the role of fossil fuels in both countries’ economies. Finally, the report concludes that policy alone cannot generate the technological advances necessary for a clean energy future. What is needed to drive innovation, Lister explains, is “policy certainty plus: governments, business and capital markets coming up with creative solutions — including financial innovations — to share the risks that accompany the transition to a low-carbon economy.” The report concludes that climate change is a problem to be addressed collectively by governments, business, and markets.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Michael Lister;
Publisher: Public Policy Forum [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2007; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: International;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Environment & Climate / Climate Change
Policy Articles / Environment & Climate / Environmental Law & Regulation
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Canada - U.S. Relations
Policy Articles / Environment & Climate
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance
Policy Articles / Environment & Climate / Climate Change / 2007
Policy Articles / Environment & Climate / Environmental Law & Regulation / 2007
Policy Articles / International Trade, Development & Finance / Canada - U.S. Relations / 2007

Keywords / Tags:

environment; climate; bi-lateral; Canada; United States; carbon exchange; oil; fossil fuels; economy; policy; congress; kyoto; agreements;