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U.S.-China emissions pact puts pressure on Canada, Alberta

With China and United States agreeing to curb greenhouse gas emissions, analysts say there will be growing pressure on Canada — and Alberta — to follow suit.

Deal between world's biggest emitters comes as Jim Prentice promises new climate change plan

A new agreement between China and the U.S. to curb greenhouse gas emissions could step up pressure on Canada to follow suit. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

With China and United States agreeing to curb greenhouse gas emissions, analysts say there will be growing pressure on Canada — and Alberta — to follow suit.

In an announcement Wednesday that took many by surprise, U.S. President Barack Obama said his country's GHG emissions would be cut by 26 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025.

And China's President Xi Jinping said his country would start capping emissions by 2030 and aim to get 20 per cent of its energy from zero-carbon sources by the same year.

Five years ago Canada set a goal to cut emissions by 2020 to 612 megatonnes of carbon dioxide.

With the surprise China-U.S. pact, there is new urgency to work towards their 26 per cent goal, said Warren Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen's University.

"We don't have a credible plan in place to systematically address those emissions,” he said. "We need to come up with that."

Canadian officials have always wanted to work in unison with their American counterparts, said Bob Page, director of the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting Agency.

Page it will be interesting to see what tack Prime Minister Stephen Harper now takes.

"It's difficult now that the United States is proposing these new measures and for Canada to follow suit."

Page said there is even more reason for Alberta Premier Jim Prentice to also take action, given that he has pledged a new climate change plan by the end of the year.

"Now the Americans are moving, there is all the more reason why Prentice would be in a position to be able to announce new actions by Alberta," he said. 

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