The United States, Canada, and Mexico are poised to announce an ambitious new energy pledge that would see 50 percent of North American electricity drawn from clean sources by 2025.
That pledge, which encompasses renewables like wind and solar but also nuclear energy and carbon capture technology, signals a growing consensus about the energy future throughout the continent. If acted on, it would go a long way towards transitioning some of the world’s biggest carbon polluters off fossil fuels and meeting the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
Set to be announced during the North American Leaders’ summit in Ottawa tomorrow, the North American electricity generation target applies to all three nations collectively, meaning one can fall short if the others pull additional weight. For Canada, which is already sourcing 59 percent of its energy from hydropower and another 16 percent from nuclear, this is basically an exercise in hand-holding. Roughly a third of US electricity stems from renewable sources and nuclear power, while just over 20 percent of electricity in Mexico is derived from non-fossil fuel sources.
For the US, increasing the share of non-fossil electricity to 50 percent in just under a decade is ambitious, but not impossible. Investment in clean energy is at an all time high, while the bottom is falling out of the coal market. “You can’t fight the future,” said Seb Henbest, lead author of a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, which came to the startling conclusion that the world is on target to hit “peak fossil fuels” for electricity generation by 2025. “The economics are increasingly locked in.”
Still, it’s hard to overstate the fact that implementation of this pledge, like many other pieces of environmental policy President Obama has introduced over the past year, very much depends on the outcome of the US presidential election this fall.