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McKenna signs environment chapter of trade agreement


OTTAWA – Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, signed the new Agreement on Environmental Cooperation among the governments of Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

This environmental cooperation agreement complements the environment chapter of the recently signed Agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico (CUSMA) and strengthens environmental cooperation between the three trade partners. The environmental cooperation agreement addresses international environmental challenges and identifies ways to seize opportunities presented by the new agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Canada, Mexico, and the United States have agreed to collaborate on a broad range of environmental issues, including reducing pollution; supporting strong, resilient, low-carbon economies; conserving and protecting nature, biodiversity, and habitats; and supporting clean growth, sustainable development, and sustainable use of natural resources.

The environmental cooperation agreement ensures that the unique institutions created more than 24 years ago under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, such as the Commission for Environmental Cooperation and its Montréal-based secretariat, will be retained and modernized.

The CUSMA chapter:

  • Integrates ambitious environmental provisions into a dedicated chapter within the CUSMA rather than a separate parallel agreement, and fully subjects them to dispute settlement.
  • Includes core obligations for parties to maintain high levels of environmental protection and robust environmental governance, including commitments:
    • to enforce environmental laws;
    • to not derogate from these laws to encourage trade or investment;
    • to promote transparency, accountability and public participation; and
    • a new commitment to ensure environmental impact assessment processes are in place for projects having potential adverse effects on the environment.
  • Creates new commitments to address a range of global environmental challenges, including substantive obligations to:
    • combat illegal wildlife trade; illegal logging; and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing;
    • promote sustainable forestry and fisheries management, including a commitment to prohibit subsidies that negatively affect fish stocks;
    • conserve species at risk;
    • implement relevant multilateral environmental agreements; and
    • take measures to protect the ozone layer and address marine pollution.
  • Includes commitment from parties to work together to conserve biological diversity and combat invasive alien species, among others.
  • Includes innovative fisheries commitments to prevent the use of explosives and poisons, and a binding commitment to prohibit the practice of shark finning—a first for Canada.
  • Introduces articles on air quality and marine litter, a first for a trade agreement environment chapter.
  • Sets out new commitments that aim to strengthen the relationship between trade and environment, including through the promotion of responsible business conduct and corporate social responsibility, trade and investment in environmental goods and services, and the use of voluntary measures to enhance environmental performance.
  • Recognizes the important role of Indigenous peoples in the long-term conservation of the environment, sustainable fisheries and forestry management, and biodiversity conservation, and takes into account the constitutional rights of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
  • Establishes a binding and enforceable dispute resolution process to address any questions regarding compliance, including recourse to the broader CUSMA dispute settlement mechanism if countries are not able to resolve the matter through consultation and cooperation.
  • Integrates the public submissions on enforcement matters process established under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), which is a key mechanism for promoting transparency and public participation on the enforcement of environmental laws in North America.

Environment Cooperation Agreement:

  • Retains and modernizes the unique institutions for trilateral environmental cooperation created under the NAAEC. This includes the continued operation of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, composed of:
    • a Council of Environment Ministers;
    • a Secretariat; and
    • a Joint Public Advisory Committee.
  • Establishes a framework (a “Work Program”) for the Parties to develop cooperative activities on a broad range of areas related to:
    • strengthening environmental governance;
    • reducing pollution and supporting strong, low emissions, resilient economies;
    • conserving and protecting biodiversity and habitats;
    • supporting green growth and sustainable development; and
    • promoting the sustainable management and use of natural resources.
  • Ensures that the Secretariat will administer the submissions on enforcement matters process that has been incorporated and strengthened in the CUSMA Environment Chapter.
  • Encourages public participation that is inclusive and diverse, as well as improved outreach and public participation, including with Indigenous peoples, in the development, implementation, and monitoring of cooperative activities.

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