The United States, Canada and Mexico have signed an agreement to explore market opportunities for renewable energies in the three countries.MONTREAL, Quebec, CA, 2001-08-09 [SolarAccess.com] The United States, Canada and Mexico have signed an agreement to explore market opportunities for renewable energies in the three countries. The agreement is contained in a communique issued by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation at its Council session in Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 29. It was the first session of the Council since heads of government met in Quebec City in April for the Summit of the Americas and issued the North American Leaders’ Statement. The sessions in Guadalajara were designed to promote mutual economic interests among the three countries and to ensure that the North American Free Trade Agreement extends to all regions through global trade and the promotion of broader trilateral and international cooperation. “While the CEC is not the forum for negotiating climate change, the Council asks the Secretariat to explore further opportunities for market-based approaches for carbon sequestration, energy efficiency and renewable energy in North America,” says the agreement signed by Christine Todd Whitman, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Karen Redman, Parliamentary Secretary to Canadian environment minister David Anderson, and Victor Lichtinger, Mexican Secretary for the Environment & Natural Resources. The group established a framework that will optimize the CEC’s work in promoting conservation and sustainable use of the environment, through the emphasis of gathering environmental information, promoting the use of market-based approaches, cooperating regionally in the implementation of global commitments, building capacity for stronger environmental partnerships, and strengthening strategic linkages to improve sustainability. “Timely and accurate environmental information is essential for rational decision making and the development of sound environmental policies,” the communique explains. “Strengthening our capacity to acquire and share knowledge among all sectors of society is fundamental to the ability of citizens to take informed action.” “The combination of restructuring and increased international trade in electric power in North America presents challenges to, and opportunities for, environmental policy,” adds the report. “The sector has long been a major source of several key air pollutants and associated environmental impacts … as well as non-air environmental problems.” An advisory group on electricity and the environment is preparing a report to address the “environmental opportunities and challenges” facing the evolving continental electricity market, with the first phase including an online database to describe key developments in restructuring and environmental and renewable portfolio standards, as well as demand-side issues related to product energy efficiency standards. The report will highlight key issues related to market integration and provide a summary market analysis of demand-side issues. Meetings of energy ministers from the three countries have been held since early this year to discuss the evolution of a continental energy market. CEC provides a forum for environment ministers to act on specific areas of environmental policy coordination in support of the electricity market, including an “analysis of options to increase cooperation among jurisdictions in the design of renewable portfolio standards” and “identification of market-based approaches and incentives to help improve environmental quality,” says the document. CEC was established by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. to build cooperation among the NAFTA partners in implementing the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, the environmental side accord to the free trade agreement.