Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington Thursday. The meeting between the two leaders, who share similar views on issues ranging from global warming to income inequality, is likely to culminate in an announcement of several climate change measures.
The meeting would mark the first state visit to the U.S. by a Canadian leader in nearly two decades.
“Prime Minister Trudeau is already showing serious, concrete commitment to accelerating progress on climate, as demonstrated by his meeting last week with the Canadian premiers, where they agreed to prioritize development of a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate,” Mark Feierstein, a high-ranking member in Obama’s National Security Council, said during a press briefing Tuesday.
Speaking at the same briefing, Todd Stern, Obama’s top climate negotiator, said the two leaders are likely to reaffirm their commitment to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, and endorse the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring initiative, which aims to end the practice of burning natural gas released during oil production.
Additionally, Trudeau and Obama are also expected to announce joint initiatives in Arctic science research and to protect ecologically sensitive marine areas in the region that has, in recent months, witnessed a drastic spike in winter temperatures.
“We appreciate the very constructive and effective role that Canada played in working closely with us on securing a strong agreement at COP-21 in Paris, and we look forward to continuing that working relationship with Prime Minister Trudeau’s government this year to maintain momentum,” Stern said.
The visit is also likely to yield agreements on measures to alleviate congestion at the U.S.-Canada border, and on increasing cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Syria and Iraq.
“Canada continues to play a critically important role in the counter-ISIL coalition and efforts to degrade and defeat Daesh [an Arabic acronym for ISIS]. And the commitments that Prime Minister Trudeau announced on February 8th are very much in line with the coalition’s needs, including tripling Canada’s training mission in northern Iraq and increasing its intelligence efforts throughout the region,” Feierstein said.
Earlier this year, Trudeau fulfilled his campaign promise to withdraw Canada’s half-dozen jets from the U.S.-led campaign against the Sunni militant group in Iraq and Syria.
The state visit comes just over four months after Trudeau — the eldest son of legendary former prime minister Pierre Trudeau — was elected, and 11 months before Obama leaves the White House.
Before Trudeau’s election victory last October, ties between the two neighbors had become increasingly strained due to tensions over the Keystone XL pipeline project. Former prime minister Stephen Harper, an outspoken supporter of the project, canceled plans to host a North American leaders’ summit early in 2015 as the project review dragged on in the U.S. The Obama administration eventually rejected Keystone XL, putting an end to a project that would have significantly increased market access for Canada’s landlocked oil production.