Join us for a conversation about the findings of three papers from 2020-21's North American Colloquium on climate policy, with their authors. April, 2022.
0:00:00.0 Heather Miller: Yeah, and welcome for joining us here at the series of events of the 2020-2021 North American Colloquium on Climate Policy. Thanks very much for being here. This is the second of three web events marking the release of eight reports on the topic of North American climate policy. I'm Heather Miller, I'm an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of New Brunswick, and I'll be moderating today's event on the topic of Green Bilateralism and Methane Policy.
0:00:37.8 HM: Now, as many of you may know, the North American Colloquium is a collaborative venture between the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy, specifically its International Policy Center, the University of Toronto, and the autonomous National University of Mexico. This colloquium was established in 2018, and what it does is it brings together leading academic analysts and practitioners from Mexico, Canada and the United States to address key public policy issues facing all three countries, and last year's issue was climate change.
0:01:14.0 HM: And so these events and reports on the topic are really a culmination of this year-long focus on North American climate policy, and it's also been made possible by the very generous support of the Meany Family Foundation, for which whose support we're very grateful.
0:01:34.5 HM: So today's event will be... Will have about an hour of a runtime. It will focus on three reports that I am delighted to be moderating. So there's... First is Canada-US Green Bilateralism Targeting Cooperation for Climate Mitigation, by Debora VanNijnatten and Mark McWhinney. The second one... Sorry, they're from Wilfrid Laurier University and Carleton University, respectively.
0:02:04.5 HM: The second paper that we'll hear about today is Methane Politics and Policy in North America, by Barry Rabe from the University of Michigan. And finally, we'll finish up with the Dark Horse of Climate Change, Agricultural Methane Governance in the United States and Canada, by Patricia Fisher, also of the University of Michigan.
0:02:25.5 HM: I've had the great fortune to listen to some of these early presentations and read earlier versions of these reports as they developed, and I really commend all of the authors on their insightful research and analysis and the creation of these reports that really provide an excellent excellent contribution to our understanding of climate politics in North America, and particularly focused on short-lived climate pollutants.
0:02:57.1 HM: And so to set our stage for our discussions, I'm just going to take a minute or two to highlight some main themes that I saw as I re-read these reports, just to draw through to have you thinking about these as we go forward with the presentations. So first, what I'd like to say is that these reports really provide a compelling examination of, as Trish calls them, the "dark horses of climate change".
0:03:31.1 HM: These are an area focusing on the elements of GHG emissions and related policy instruments, which really have been until very recently out of the public eye, as compared to these sort of high-profile topics of carbon pricing, for example. These are areas that have often been understudied by climate social scientists who are more focused on carbon pricing and renewable energy procurement, but these reports really demonstrate just how crucial figuring out the politics and the policy making of these areas will be to achieving decarbonization.
0:04:16.5 HM: And so in particular, methane forms a common thread through all these reports, as I said, but these reports also touch on discussions of other short-lived climate pollutants, and together they really provide an invaluable primer on why these pollutants are such a problem for climate, why they're often neglected, and why some are more likely to be politically feasible than others.
0:04:42.8 HM: Second, the other sort of theme that I'd like to draw out is that these papers really pay a close attention to the intersecting threads of governance, between international agreements, bilateral cooperation, and national and sub-national climate policy, and the authors of these reports demonstrate these opportunities, but also the shortcomings of high profile international agreements. Because in many cases, even when political leadership is present, climate policy is constrained, and we'll get into that in our conversation, I think today.
0:05:18.2 HM: Finally, as the earlier papers released the series, for those of you who are able to attend the earlier event, these papers touch on the importance of the politics of natural gas, whether it's shale gas or liquefied natural gas, or renewable natural gas, otherwise known as bio-methane.
0:05:37.5 HM: As we all know, the geopolitics of natural gas markets are just rapidly afflux with the Russian-Ukraine War, but I think that these papers demonstrate the ways in which the production, distribution and use of natural gas in North America has really already been rapidly shifting and changing over the last decades, and has even changed just during the research of these reports, and the timeliness of these reports is incredibly important.
0:06:03.9 HM: And so the work of these authors really reminds us that while the particular current of configuration of events may seem utterly new, in many cases, today's energy politics are deeply rooted in past policies and past climate governance arrangements. So with those thoughts, I would like to pass the floor over to Deb and Mark.
0:06:35.0 Debora VanNijnatten: Okay. Alright, so I want to just provide a little bit of an overview of what we were trying to do in our paper and then, and a few main takeaways, and then I'm going to hand it over to Mark to talk about some of the case studies. So in our paper, what we really try to do is assess where it makes the most sense for Canada and the US to cooperate on climate policy, and we talk a little bit about how it should be done and how it is being done.
0:07:04.5 DV: First, what we did is we looked across all of the climate policy programming in the two countries, and we look at where there's the closest policy alignment, and then this leads us to focus on three cases; the carbon capture and storage technologies, the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, and then electrification of transport, and our focus is really on on electric vehicles, passenger vehicles.
0:07:30.4 DV: And so what we do with those three cases, is we dig a bit deeper and we assess bilateral cooperation in those areas according to a set of seven attributes that we think really should typify good, effective bilateral cooperation. Things like high levels of political commitment, the presence of strategic domestic partners that can help you achieve your agenda, legislative or regulatory framework supporting action, and things like whether bilateral relations are already firmly institutionalized, so is there an architecture there?
0:08:05.8 DV: There's three kind of takeaways from our paper. The first is that there's no doubt that a coordinated and ambitious cross-border climate policy strategy is needed in North America. We don't simply wanna push greenhouse gases around the continent, we wanna reduce them, and we need to make every effort to capitalize on what are close economic and trade ties, and we wanna make sure that North America uses its combined forces to secure a place in the global race for marketshare in clean tech, because we are definitely in a global race.
0:08:48.3 DV: But that's not what we have in place currently. There is no ambitious cross-border climate policy strategy with a coherent vision. Under the Biden and Trudeau administrations, the architecture supporting bilateral cooperation is lightweight. It's not well institutionalized or functionally intense, and it's not particularly cohesive.
0:09:12.1 DV: What we see across our chosen areas is that bilateral cooperation takes place via a pretty broad array of distinctive cooperative channels and structures that are kind of loosely gathered under an executive umbrella. What we find is this really fragments continental policy efforts.
0:09:31.7 DV: The second takeaway is a really political one, and that is, while the political will to take ambitious action related to greenhouse gas mitigation and a green transition is readily available on both sides of the border, this is a great moment in time for the two countries to be cooperating, the bilateral infrastructure is really vulnerable to domestic political headwinds. But those... But they're not equally vulnerable.
0:10:02.3 DV: And so something that I think Mark and I wanna draw out in the discussion today is that if you look across the next two, three years, what's left in the mandates of the two administrations, what you see is that domestic politics and opposition are stronger constraint in the US case than in Canada, across all of our... All the cases that we look at it. In fact, in Canada, I'm gonna sort of controversially make the argument that National Climate Policy has become somewhat less vulnerable to opposition from the provinces and large industries. So we can talk about that.
0:10:44.5 DV: And then the third takeaway is that certainly in the cases of carbon capture storage and EVs, Canada and the US could and should be adopting what Mark and I talk about as a cluster strategy for pursuing continental climate operation, but they fail to do so thus far. Short-lived climate pollutants, they work less well in a cluster format, we can talk about that as well. But I'm gonna hand it over to Mark, 'cause he's been thinking more about how you make, how you cluster policy strategies in these three cases.
0:11:20.0 Mark McWhinney: Thanks, Debora. One of the key issues that we wanted to define with this paper is not only how you go about clustering, but how you choose particular policy areas that have tendencies that may differ from one another, but also can show you how the bilateral cooperative processes may or may not be actually playing out within the domain.
0:11:50.0 MM: As Debora indicated, short-lived climate pollutants are interesting because they don't necessarily lend well to a clustered format, yet they have the longest history as far as formal bilateral regulatory approaches are concerned. So whether you go back to the Canada-US Air Quality agreement or the Net Zero Producers Forum, or the Expert working Group on Black Carbon and Methane, these are domains and jurisdictions where there has been significant discussion between Canada and the US.
0:12:28.9 MM: It seems that efforts have not necessarily fallen off, but they may have fallen short compared to what it is that we wanted to see, so taking the form of ministerials and joint statements, but not actually getting together within forum discussions and putting your heads together in a manner that is both constructive and cooperative. So SLCPs, we'd say we chose them on the characterization that you do have this established regulatory working relationship, but it may not be being explored to its fullest potential.
0:13:09.7 MM: If we turn to vehicle electrification or just electrification in general, the domain itself is interesting because it's characterized by both cooperation and competitiveness. We're concerned with vehicle electrification within the entire life cycle of the transition to EV, so starting with critical minerals, and then we're looking at vehicle manufacture, battery manufacture, recycling, charging infrastructure, as kind of the four or five, including critical mineral strategies, that need to be built out in an integrated fashion.
0:13:54.6 MM: But it doesn't seem to be the case for this industry thus far, and we think that that stems from the the competitiveness of the industry itself and the desire for a number of key actors and players to be leveraging or attempting to leverage a comparative advantage within the domain itself.
0:14:19.1 MM: We certainly understand why this might be the case, but we also question whether or not the industry itself can be deployed in a more constructive fashion if we have more co-operation on the table. If we stick to these discussions at high level ministerials and little statements here and there, are we actually talking about cooperation, or are the two countries running in parallel with each other? We wanna find that point of intersection where intersection is constructive and for the benefit of both parties.
0:14:56.3 MM: There are little items that we can pick out out of each aspect of that quadfecta plus critical minerals, and we wanna keep critical minerals in the conversation because the United States has said on multiple occasions that they need to enter into some sort of dependency agreement for their supply of critical minerals, and Canada is certainly well-positioned to fulfill that need but it's gonna take an amount of cooperation for that to unfold in a constructive fashion.
0:15:28.6 MM: CCS, on the other hand, is characterized by some infrastructure in place and some prior developmental cooperation in place as far as Weyburn-Midale, or regional characterization through the [0:15:46.0] ____ partnership, but it's kind of fallen off the map and we have private actors taking the steps further in their own regard, but we're not seeing much commitment on the national or the international level.
0:16:03.0 MM: We know that enhanced oil recovery has certainly made the conversation around carbon capture and storage a little bit difficult, but it is still an area where we see promise for cooperation and if we think about CCS in the form of hub source and sink networks, then there's a number of avenues for entrance for interested parties.
0:16:34.2 HM: Thanks very much, Mark and Debora. You've given a lot to think about. We'll move on to Barry, who is going to talk about methane in North America.
0:16:48.1 Barry Rabe: Thanks so much, Heather. We all know that addressing carbon emissions are a really hard political slog, whether we're in Canada, the United States, Mexico, anywhere in the world. To devise policies that have a strong base of political support and create policies that are durable and really drive down carbon emissions is tough to do regardless of sector.
0:17:16.7 BR: One thing, and Heather you said it very nicely at the outset, that really kind of links across our papers, is in varying ways, each has a focus on the question of short-lived climate pollutants. This is really an area where our national and physical science colleagues have done most of the lifting, and the social sciences have been relatively late to the table to think about those, but at least in each of these papers, certainly a major focus of mine is the question that when the climate impacts are intensely front-loaded they become near-term climate impacts. Which is true for methane, hydrofluorocarbons, black carbon and the other short-lived climate pollutants.
0:18:00.3 BR: Does that shift or change the politics? Because you can argue and perceive that there's a near-term or a shorter term benefit, as opposed to the discussions we often have in carbon where we're discussing about generations or many, many decades where there might be some benefit telling. Does that change the politics?
0:18:19.6 BR: And in that sense, the case that I'm examining CH4 or methane, in the energy sector, particularly oil and gas production, should be a pretty easy case to make an argument for extensive political engagement. A ton of methane has 87 times the global warming capacity of a similar amount of carbon during its first two decades in the atmosphere, consistent with these other pollutants.
0:18:46.7 BR: Methane from oil and gas is the waste of a non-renewable natural resource, that if captured, is in effect gas and has considerable commercial value. There's money being lost all over the place of sloppy oil and gas operations. Methane is clearly an air toxic in many respects, depending on the venting and flaring combinations that are in play, and falls directly into the orbit of air quality and air protection.
0:19:19.8 BR: There are also models, corporations that have found it relatively easy for some time to minimize methane releases. In the European context, Norway. In the Middle Eastern context, Saudi Arabia, who actually had enviable methane reduction capture records in some cases for decades, or in Norway's cases, generations. Was an IEA study that came out two months ago that said if the entire world were to adopt Norway's long-standing standards for oil and gas related to methane, we would achieve more than a 90% reduction in energy sector methane.
0:19:55.4 BR: And then there's this phrase "low-hanging fruit", which I'm reluctant to use because it's almost always trundled out in discussions of methane, and so here I go. The reality that for this kind of methane release, the technology is to capture or to mitigate, to reduce those emissions, are really quite stunning. Many of them have been around for some time. Many of them are very cost-effective, especially when you weigh in the gas capture and economic use of the gas.
0:20:26.5 BR: And yet when we turn to methane across North America historically, with most oil and gas producing states around the world, there's the politics. Of which there's very, very little literature, and collectively we're all making contributions to thinking about some of these issues with these papers.
0:20:45.7 BR: I was focusing on these three neighboring petrostates, Mexico, Canada, and the United States, especially in very highly decentralized regimes like Canada and the United States, where you have your Texases and Albertas that are given enormous flexibility and latitude to design their own policies in those systems.
0:21:08.0 BR: My research focus is an area of rather soft continental policy agreement, a 2016 North American Leaders' Summit, not the first, not the last, which agreed among the three leaders of North America at that time to achieve deep energy sector methane reductions by the middle of this decade, and much of the paper takes the story across those three cases. What happens when continental leaders come together and sign a formal agreement?
0:21:39.8 BR: Mexico actually followed fairly promptly and passed legislation that gained accolades from groups like the Environmental Defense Fund, state of the art methane legislation. It's still on the books, by all accounts, it has not been implemented. Mexico, especially under the energy, the oil re-nationalization under the current government, has the remarkable and staggering record of producing less oil, much more methane, and now having to increase its imports of gas from Texas via pipeline to compensate for flared losses of gas that it's producing on its own.
0:22:18.6 BR: In the US, the US ultimately from 2016, sure, we had one administration, the Trump administration, reverse efforts by the Obama administration to create a regulatory regime through unilateral executive action. We had aggressive opposition from almost all at that time, production states to any federal activity or initiative, no history of serious Congressional engagement, and very uneven performance across states and firms in this area.
0:22:49.5 BR: The exceptional case here is Canada. The Trudeau government, really even before the summit, was moving to develop a more credible methane regime modeled on some best practices, has moved to implement that and is actually essentially on track to meet its mid-decade or 2025 emission reduction targets.
0:23:12.1 BR: Three nations, three very different paths. And Heather, you've referred to this at the outset, one thing that really struck me in my paper is that I thought I was done with this paper about a year ago, a first draft, and then policy happened and politics began to shift. And I don't mean a suggestion like glacial tectonic shifts, and yet, if you look at certainly the American case, energy sector methane has really begun to move over the last 13 or 14 months, another change of administrations.
0:23:42.9 BR: I devote quite a bit of time toward the very end of the paper over a meditation on what this means. In the US, since January of 2021, the first time Congress acted using the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Trump administration, actually some Republican support, primarily Democrats, restoring the Obama era regulations through legislation, not regulation, giving EPA and federal agencies a chance to build on that record.
0:24:14.2 BR: We've begun to see a small set of production states, particularly Colorado and New Mexico, our second largest oil producer now after Texas, developing pretty aggressive regulatory programs to capture methane on their own, growing shifts and divides between varying types of oil and gas producer industries. It is no longer the uniform coalition that would be opposed to every possible methane proposal, that has stayed capital.
0:24:39.9 BR: And then we have things like the new North American Leaders' Pledge, which is now five months old. They're back together again, a different group, and now they've doubled down on the earlier pledge. They've changed the language, but we now have a new North American agreement, as well as a global provision, the ultimate in international soft law, the Global Methane Pledge.
0:25:06.3 BR: 110 nations have joined President Biden's challenge to try to achieve a 30% reduction in all of methane through 2030, we'll see how that goes. 110 nations are on board. Really to this point, only Canada has stepped forward and said, "We're not only pledging it, but here's how we're going to do it."
0:25:23.1 BR: That said, all of this is very uncertain, it is very fragile, and any of these late pivots should not be suggesting that we are well on our way to a very clear and effective methane regime, and yet we're in a very different place than the first time I actually presented some version of this to my team, to my colleagues here, but then others.
0:25:43.5 BR: And it has made me wonder if you combine this with what we're seeing in the hydrofluorocarbons in the US, with the other countries, if there are some ways that we could begin to think about a North American leadership role in these areas. Mindful though, as Deb, you've pointed out, that clustering and aligning these different nations becomes a huge, huge challenge. So, some initial thoughts. Thanks.
0:26:08.6 HM: Thanks, Barry. We'll move on to Trish Fisher and the politics of agricultural methane.
0:26:21.2 Trish Fisher: Thanks, Heather. I'm delighted to be here with you all today and to be a part of this colloquium. I'd particularly like to thank Barry for his ongoing mentorship, Heather and Marcela Lopez-Vallejo for their very thoughtful feedback, and Josh for all of his hard work in putting on this colloquium.
0:26:40.3 TF: While I've been interested in the role of livestock in the climate crisis since before I started graduate school, it was not 'til my first year at the Ford School that I learned just how under-examined from a policy perspective, livestock and agricultural methane were, especially in North America.
0:27:01.1 TF: During the last year and a half as I've been researching agricultural methane policy under Barry's tutelage, there has been a pretty seismic shift in the global climate policy arena, as Barry alluded to, with methane moving from relative obscurity to center stage. Despite this unprecedented level of attention on methane, livestock agriculture, which is one of the largest sources of methane emissions globally, simply has not received the same level of attention from climate policy scholars or policy makers.
0:27:36.8 TF: So my paper is an attempt to begin filling that gap by examining the federal and sub-federal approaches to agricultural methane mitigation in the US and Canada. These two countries represent particularly important cases for agricultural methane governance. Both represent small shares of the global population, but are two of the world's largest producers, consumers and exporters of livestock and animal food products.
0:28:12.4 TF: As such, the US and Canada bear disproportionate responsibility for global livestock methane emissions, which are estimated to comprise roughly 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This issue has become all the more urgent, because in the last few years, climate research has demonstrated that even if global combustion of fossil fuels were to cease immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would preclude 1.5 degree Celsius of warming, and threaten the preclusion of 2 degrees Celsius of warming 2100.
0:28:52.7 TF: So given that roughly half of emissions from the global food system stem from livestock production, emissions from livestock agriculture have become the so-called "dark horse of climate change". My paper's key finding is that neither Canada nor the US are considering policy approaches that even approximate the types of comprehensive changes to the food system that will be necessary to avert more than 2 degrees of warming.
0:29:21.4 TF: To date, the US has focused almost entirely on addressing the small fractions of livestock methane emissions that result from the decomposition of livestock waste. This has primarily been done by subsidizing and incentivizing extraordinarily expensive bio gas recovery systems, which can generate electricity or renewable natural gas from livestock waste. However, these policies do nothing to address the source of the vast majority of livestock methane emissions, enteric fermentation, which is a natural and central part permanent livestock digestive systems.
0:30:03.7 TF: Canada, on the other hand, has focused on the demand side, by recommending reduced consumption of red meat and dairy products, which has in some ways put it ahead of the US. Canada has not pursued any additional policies, for example, a meat tax that would actually put teeth behind these dietary recommendations and begin to draw down livestock production. So for the sake of brevity, I'd be happy to discuss some of the science of livestock methane mitigation, as well as state and provincial strategies during the Q&A.
0:30:41.6 TF: The US and Canada are beginning to fall behind peer countries in terms of livestock methane. For instance, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand have enacted or are considering for more aggressive approaches to livestock methane mitigation, such as mandatory cuts in livestock production and inclusion of agricultural emissions in New Zealand's greenhouse gas crises team.
0:31:10.5 TF: In conclusion, I hope that by detailing the American and Canadian approaches to agricultural methane governance, my paper will contribute to a small but growing body of research that demonstrates the gap between what is currently being done and the scale of approaches necessary to avert the most catastrophic climate scenarios.
0:31:34.4 TF: There are enormous political barriers, ranging from powerful vested interests to voters' dietary preferences, that have rendered this such a difficult aspect of the climate crisis to address. We know what needs to be done. Countries in the global north, but particularly the US, given the outsized global influence of American agricultural policy, must transition away from red meat and dairy consumption.
0:32:03.0 TF: However, it remains an open question whether we will muster the political will to effectively address this large and growing source of methane emissions. And with that, I will turn it back over to Heather.
0:32:16.1 HM: Thanks Trish. Thanks everybody for those encapsulations. I'll just let everybody who's on the call know that the papers are just currently in press, they're coming out very soon, and so everyone who's here today, we can email you a link to the copy of the papers. I really, really encourage you to read them. They're just excellent. And I think...
0:32:47.1 HM: So what I'll do to kick us off for a little bit of questions, a little bit of conversation for about 10 minutes, and then we'll open up the floor for questions. Just in the interest of time, what I'll ask you to do is to just type your question into the chat, so it can... You can either, you're welcome to just direct message me, Heather Miller, or you can just share it with everyone and then we'll try to sort of cluster those questions towards in about 10 minutes.
0:33:15.4 HM: But to start us off, what I'd like to do is to just pick up on those domestic headwinds that Debora was talking about. What struck me, and I know it's my own confirmation bias, 'cause I study sub-national climate policy, but really the role of these sub-national governments as both leaders and laggards in driving momentum around some of these areas, particularly around CCS and electrification of transport, but also those production states and agricultural equivalent in Trish's case. So encouraging anyone to jump in and just tell us a little bit more about what your findings were?
0:34:15.0 DV: Well, you know what, I'll start us off. Oh, and try to be controversial. So when we think about Canada, the US, and Mexico is, it's a different federal system, but certainly in Canada and the US the provinces and states have the power to just obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, and they're very effective at doing so. On the other hand, we have those that lead, we have those sub-national provinces and states that lead, and we also have some good Mexican examples of states that try to lead.
0:34:47.8 DV: I would say what's interesting right now is that in Canada, the leaders, the provinces that are leaders are being enabled, and the ones that are obstructionist are being weighed down by these layers of federal policies that are being put in place successively. I would say from the Pan-Canadian framework to the Supreme Court decision that the feds have precedence in climate policy, and then these layers of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accountability Act, we've got the Admissions Reduction Plan now, we've got methane regulations, and then they're gonna cap oil and gas.
0:35:31.7 DV: So I would say that those provinces that wanna be obstructionist and have long been obstructionist are finding that they can't get purchase in the same way anymore. I'll leave it to the others to talk about whether they see anything like that happening in the US.
0:35:47.1 BR: Debora, I'd like to pick up on the first part of your comment, the leader and laggard divide, and we see that big time across the climate space in the US. What makes methane though probably even more complicated than carbon, is that there's probably a great political will to move on methane among the many states that don't produce oil and gas, and many of them don't have large manufacturing sectors, don't use a lot of gas.
0:36:15.3 BR: The closer you get to points of actual production in states, the political will to address methane declines dramatically. You look at the 15 large production states, which are mainly the jurisdictions that I look at in my paper, and here you also see how the incredibly hyper-partisan and divisive methane policy has been amongst states more generally as well, but the Republican-Democratic divide, which wasn't really true in the first decade of the century, but has been there ever since.
0:36:51.3 BR: Almost all of those states are pure Republican states. Politically, it would probably be very hard for anyone to survive, certainly state-wide, emphasizing a particular methane strategy or the like. Where we do begin to see some states starting to push the edge, I mentioned Colorado and New Mexico, are states to kind of flip the script and are all Democratic, usually start with the governor kind of pushing the edge, legislative pick up, but those are still the minority of production states in the US.
0:37:25.0 BR: And so if you look at just those states of one party, they're methane policy leaders, they're constantly moving, the rest of the pack still would have to be dragged kicking and screaming. One last point is, I think we really do see in this area, the ability of states not just to kind of push new policy, but block and actively try to undermine everything that the federal government might try to do.
0:37:49.6 BR: A real challenge for what Biden is trying to do through executive action is a lot of that is still gonna have to be run through interstate negotiations under the Clean Air Act, state implementations and procedures that could take years to put something into play, and so why we may see that script repeated itself. Well, some thoughts from the energy sector.
0:38:11.3 TF: Yeah, and I would just add very briefly that federalism poses an enormous challenge for livestock methane mitigation, because livestock agriculture exists and is mostly viable in every American state and Canadian province. So livestock agriculture is a highly mobile source of emissions, livestock are, typically already shift over very long distances. So this is a real challenge of when states want to take more serious action, they are basically just ensuring that their livestock industry is going to move to another state or province.
0:38:48.0 TF: In livestock agriculture, by far the case that is the most, has developed the most comprehensive approach to mitigation is California, and their signature livestock policy specifically states that the most... One of the most overriding objectives is minimizing leakage to other countries and other states. So it's a real challenge at the sub-federal level, but there has been some action, notably in California and Alberta in Canada.
0:39:22.5 HM: Thank you everybody. That raises the other thought that I had that I was really curious about, which is the role of technological uncertainty versus political viability or feasibility of these policies. One thing, Debora and Mark, I just wanna reiterate for our audience, just how comprehensive the work is with regard to measures, and really that I really appreciate this combination of conversation about technological readiness as well as the sort of, the governance structures that are there.
0:40:04.5 HM: I'm wondering if in your work, you talk about the tension between CCS still being as yet commercially unproven, but politically viable, whereas Trish, your work really highlights the extreme unproven nature of any kind of supply-side policy solutions for methane mitigation, whereas Barry, your work, it's the other side. It's sort of technologically we know what to do, it's just not there.
0:40:29.5 HM: So I'm wondering if you might talk... If anyone has any thoughts about the sort of role of both technological but also political uncertainty in your research, in the way that they interact?
0:40:41.0 MM: I guess I can start that off from the technological side at least, and because you brought up carbon capture, it is an interesting domain to begin with. One of the big issues with carbon capture is of course, that it is prohibitively, at this point in time, prohibitively expensive.
0:41:06.3 MM: We're trying to understand that there is the direct air capture route, which is of course the most promising application of carbon capture because it has the ability to actually generate negative emissions. The problem with that, of course, is that pulling carbon directly out of the atmosphere in any CCS conversation is at the bottom of the feasibility chain. It just is too expensive. We do have big private sector players looking into this issue, but at this point in time, we need to think about carbon capture and sequestration usually through the oil and gas channels.
0:41:56.5 MM: With that being said, the conversation then turns to, what are you actually doing when you sequester carbon, and whether or not you are using that sequestered carbon for the purposes of enhanced oil recovery. One of the big hindrances for CCS really taking off is a concern that stems from EOR, because EOR pushes the emissions somewhere down the road. Yes, you are taking carbon and recycling it as part of the process, but that those fossil fuels are still gonna be burned somewhere down the line.
0:42:32.1 MM: So thinking about downstream emissions certainly scares people a little bit on EOR and the pushback in the Canadian context has been big on that. We just had a big letter from over 400 concerned scientists in Canada, because the Canadian government is currently proposing or just had a consultation period on how they would structure a tax credit for carbon capture purposes, and the resounding consensus was that if this is going to happen, and if we facilitate this credit, we do not wanna see it going towards EOR.
0:43:06.8 MM: But at the same time, you still wanna be able to leverage the industry itself, you wanna create economies of scale within the industry, so I think it is a bit of a balancing act, at least on that technological side, but as we see the technology kind of proliferate into different industries, and methane is certainly a big one, which I think that Barry can speak to, I wouldn't call it off the table. It's, we need to encourage and facilitate the investment so that we can downsize on the side of cost and then increase on the side of efficiency.
0:43:46.2 BR: So if I could pick up on that. Heather, you frame the methane point in your great question, that technologically we seem to know what to do about it. And yet there's a flip side to that, technically, we actually don't know how much methane is being produced from site to site, state to state, province to province. We're way off. Unlike most of the other climate contaminants, certainly carbon but others, we don't have reliable data.
0:44:19.9 BR: One of the themes that I explore in the paper is this sort of irony where we have all this capture technology and all the rest, but it's only belatedly that we're beginning to develop a recognition that the reporting systems that have been placed, which are largely industry-driven, exhibit an extraordinary downward bias. A broad rule of thumb across a large, large number of studies, is that a lot of posted data is off by 40% to 70%.
0:44:49.2 BR: Imagine if we were having this conversation about greenhouse gas emissions from a power plant. "Well, we're not sure." This is really, really challenging, yet it's also one where I think the natural and physical sciences that have focused on monitoring and satellite and overflight issues have really brought much, much more attention, at least to energy sector methane than perhaps livestock agriculture and some of these other areas, and there could be some really significant advancements if we get those numbers right.
0:45:19.4 BR: In part because of the bad news, the numbers are gonna be much, much higher than anyone wanted to believe five or 10 years ago when natural gas seemed a much more attractive alternative to coal than it is now.
0:45:32.6 TF: So I think for livestock, there are some parallels with energy sector methane, which is that we really have no idea how much methane emissions are coming from livestock, and particularly from livestock waste. There has been... Recent studies have demonstrated that there's just this enormous gap between bottom-up estimates from livestock waste and when they actually deploy, are doing aerial surveillance technology, and we're talking about orders of magnitude difference in the estimates, so the numbers that are typically cited in the literature are probably way, way off.
0:46:11.7 TF: In terms of what the future of technology is gonna look like in livestock methane mitigation, I think it's gonna come down to how fast the FDA and similar bodies globally are going to be able to approve drugs, vaccines and genetically engineer animals to decrease their methane emission.
0:46:36.3 TF: There have been genetically engineered cattle already approved by the FDA to be heat tolerant, so I think that's where we're going in the future, but there's obviously this sort of enormous question about the consumer acceptance and potential health implications on animal health and subsequently human health of what genetically engineered cattle means.
0:47:01.0 HM: OKay, I think I'm gonna move on to some questions from the audience. I'm going to ask one for each of the presenters, just to get them out there and have you chance to think about them. First for Debora and Mark, from Christopher Borick. There are inherently different incentives for cooperation on a policy option...
0:47:24.1 HM: Are there, sorry, inherently different incentives for cooperation on policy option like CCS to an area like electrification? And if so, are there some areas in particular that you really wanna push... Or that you found with regards to low-hanging fruit in terms of North-American cooperation?
0:47:45.6 HM: For Barry, looking at the different paths between Canada, the US and Mexico, what kind of variation do you see across the cases, particularly with regards to interest group mobilization or relative costs or differences in constituencies, that might benefit from these more stringent regulations, like those found in other parts of the world? And that's from Erick Lachapelle.
0:48:14.9 HM: And as well for Trish, to give you an opportunity, you talked a bit about the comprehensive work in your paper about supply side or supply side measures, just wondering if you wanna talk a little bit more about demand side policies and what some of those might look like from your other... From your other cases that you look at in the paper? And I guess maybe, Debora and Mark, if you are willing to go first?
0:48:49.5 DV: Sure. Well, that's a really hard question, Christopher. [chuckle] Low-hanging fruit. I feel my beaten down side, having studied climate policy for 25 years, [chuckle] is saying, "We've done low-hanging group. It's gone." Right? So we have to, we have to do the hard stuff now. That said, two quick thoughts.
0:49:13.2 DV: The low-hanging fruit is energy efficiency. Which we could be doing. Mark and I started looking at that. That's not something that we went to, we dug into in the paper. That is the low-hanging fruit. In the North American context, we could be doing a lot more, and there's infrastructure there, the NAFTA committees, or the USMCA communities that are focusing on standards harmonization, could be doing that up the wazoo. As far as I know, they're not doing that.
0:49:48.8 DV: But I think EVs are just an open and shut case. Who else is going to compete with China in terms of manufacture of batteries, manufacturer of cars, the critical minerals to create all of this, plus battery recycling, which we need to talk more about battery recycling. That's an area that is under kind of provision globally. North America could be... North America could be the battery recycling kind of center, right?
0:50:25.0 DV: But all of those components that Mark and I talk about, we talk about the EV quadfecta. Trifecta is a horse bet that you put in, we call it the "quadfecta". We could be organizing this on a continental scale to compete, and we're not. We're not doing that. Mark and I are just like, "Why?" We keep having these discussions about... This makes so much sense. Canada should be playing hardball and saying, "We got the critical minerals, but we're not gonna give 'em unless we're doing this, this and the other thing. So let's play ball." We don't see that happening.
0:51:03.7 BR: Yeah, thanks, and thanks, Eric, for the question. I think this question of playing ball is a really interesting one, Deb, and in part, I think one of the questions that I've been posing a lot over our project, is should we really think about trilateralism in the full continent, or do we look for targets of opportunities when at least two of the three nations are aligning in similar ways? Given the history and the challenges and doing some of this. And how do you sort of play off these differences? That's one observation.
0:51:39.0 BR: Relatedly, and we just mentioned the US Mexico Canada Trade Agreement, replacing the NAFTA agreement put together in the last stages of the Trump administration, is an interesting one to weigh and think about because it could have theoretically built on what NAFTA began in some of the environmental space. It largely did not.
0:52:00.2 BR: USMCA has had some great advances continentally in digital governance, labor policy. It was supported by a lot of Republicans and Democrats through the approval process in Congress. And yet that whole continental question, could you come back through the amendment process or the fact that USMCA has to be revised, I believe every six... Reviewed every six years. Could you bring in some of this content into that? Is that an arena to play ball? If you did, what would be that sweeter subset of policies?
0:52:33.0 BR: One last point is that, and we really haven't talked about this much in our discussions, but I think is significant, is thinking about how different the three nations are in terms of carbon pricing. As Canada moves toward end of the decade, toward a $170 a ton carbon price, Canadian currency, but a huge new price, the Mexican carbon price is at about $1 converted to US, with exemptions for natural gas. And the US carbon price, as best as I can see, is gonna remain at zero.
0:53:06.4 BR: With the possibility that the European Union is gonna launch a process known as "carbon border adjustment", trade wars, tariffs and all the rest, is North America going to align and work against, or work with Europe? And what happens when we have this sort of interesting cross-border dynamic, when you cross over where I live, the Ambassador Bridge, and you move from a carbon-free tax zone to one of the largest carbon prices in the world?
0:53:32.2 BR: How do we think about all of those pieces, is that cuts across whether we're looking at methane or some of these other areas. I think that's some of the underlying policy for which I'm not at all sure there's a good institutional design yet.
0:53:47.4 HM: Thanks, Barry. Trish, I wanna leave it with you to just tell us more about those demand side policies if you want.
0:54:00.4 TF: So in 2019, Canada rolled out new dietary guidelines, which really emphasized the need to transition away from mammalian protein and towards mostly plant-based sources of protein, and these dietary guidelines have been heralded by all different kinds of environmental organizations as sample sustainable nutrition guidelines. So I think there's definitely something there.
0:54:29.0 TF: But there's a study out of the OECD has shown that red meat consumption is not gonna change in Canada without some sort of market intervention, so there's a pretty substantial literature in public health that sort of demonstrates that dietary guidelines only do so much. They're good, but they don't really move the needle all that much.
0:54:49.1 TF: This is really a very small and emerging field of research, so there's not a lot there there, but I will say that a host of European countries have implemented these same kinds of dietary guidelines that really specify that you should be eating almost no read meat whatsoever. Countries including Australia and the UK have considered meat taxes, but none have been implemented, with the exception of I think Hungary, which has a broader junk food tax, which I think like hamburgers and things like that qualify in the junk food tax.
0:55:24.5 TF: And then lastly, this is being rolled out across the EU, and there's just constant battles by different countries with large beef, pork and cheese industries, but the EU has a system called Nutri-Score, which puts a red, yellow, green label on food packaging that indicates what are the health and sustainability implications of your food choices.
0:55:50.3 TF: So luckily, sustainable diets and healthy diets pretty much overlap entirely, so it's a pretty easy score. It's something to think about. But yeah, there's constantly Spanish pork producers and Italian cheeses that are getting really angry about the lack of a green Nutri-Score on their foods.
0:56:12.0 HM: Thanks, Trish. We're getting close to time, so I'm gonna leave a minute for everyone to provide a last thought if they want. While you're thinking about what that last thought will be, I'll just gently remind everyone that there is one last panel in this series, which will be held next Tuesday, April 12th, from the same time, 04:00 to 05:00 EDT.
0:56:39.1 HM: That is on US-Canada Climate, Public Opinion and Urban Climate Governance, with the excellent Christopher Borick, Erick Lachapelle, Sara Hughes, and Brendan Boyd. Really a very exciting panel as well. So I will turn back over to our presenters to share their final thoughts. Maybe I'll go in backwards order this time, so Trish, I'll start with you.
0:57:07.5 TF: Sure. I think we're at this really pivotal moment where there seems to just be a convergence of a ton of different forces that make mostly plant-based diets the easy choice. Inflation in red meat has been the highest of any food category in the US and Canada. So the evidence about colorectal cancer and other forms of chronic diseases from red meat just keeps on piling up year after year. And the climate implications of red meat and dairy consumption are increasingly being spotlighted by the IPCC and other climate and environmental lobbies.
0:57:50.8 TF: But it is clearly a really tremendous problem that has very little political interest in it, and I think some of you may remember this, that a study actually from University of Michigan came out right at the beginning of the Biden administration that was talking about meat and climate, and it became sort of a social media phenomenon that Biden was trying to take away your hamburgers.
0:58:13.0 TF: I think that sort of just sums up how difficult it is that our national identities are very much tied in, both countries, with meat and dairy consumption, and that is gonna be a really difficult issue to solve.
0:58:31.5 HM: Thanks. I'll move over to Barry.
0:58:33.9 BR: Energy methane, Heather, goes back to the point that you raised at the end of your opening, what is the future of natural gas and how do we think about it? On the one hand, reducing methane reduces impacts, but perhaps opens a path for continued use of natural gas, and yet as we look at climate policy, as we look at European energy policy, the path to get to zero use in production of oil and gas is a very uncertain one, not just in North America. So the methane piece is part of that larger sell and conversation about how we achieve these transitions.
0:59:07.6 HM: Thanks. I'll turn over to Mark and Debora for final thoughts.
0:59:14.3 DV: I'm just gonna punt to Mark.
0:59:18.2 MM: I think the final thought for us just comes out of that cluster approach at large, and understanding that if we are gonna make our way through this climate crisis with good, structured and well-mannered policy, there really is not only a need to cooperate, but also a serious amount of potential for cooperation.
0:59:44.5 MM: I think that as... Or we think that as the climate crisis presents this global commons problem, there is part of that that suggests that you need to have cooperation in order to get through it. The actions that states may take on their own will have the potential to mitigate to an extent, but I think that there's... Or we think that there's a need to picture this landscape as one of cooperation and not necessarily one of competition.
1:00:12.3 MM: 'Cause that will probably, or will hopefully lead to a much more constructive way about not only getting through this, but also the next steps to sort of take, after you've hopefully handled some of the most damning parts of it.
1:00:31.6 HM: Well, thanks everybody. And thank you everyone for attending today. I hope you have wonderful evenings, and encourage you to again, just register by clicking on the Ford School website for that panel next week. Yes, a huge felicitations on the achievement of these final reports, and again, encourage you all to read them. They are great reading.
1:01:02.5 DV: Thank you.