U.S. President Barack Obama gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family a warm welcome as they arrived for an official visit to Washington, D.C.

In between the jokes and exchanges of mutual admiration and respect, the two leaders also made several announcements that will affect border travel and greenhouse emissions.

Climate change

The two leaders released a joint statement Thursday, saying they have committed to reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector.

The statement also said they will explore new opportunities for additional methane reductions.

Methane is estimated to be at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate warming agent. Environmental groups, including the Pembina Institute, applauded the promise from U.S. and Canada.

Also mentioned in the joint statement:

  • Canada and the U.S. will work together to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, and “commit to join and sign the agreement as soon as feasible.”
  • A new partnership “to embrace the opportunities and to confront the challenges in the changing Arctic, with Indigenous and Northern partnerships, and responsible, science-based leadership.” This includes a re-affirmation of the goal of protecting at least 17 per cent of land areas and 10 per cent of marine areas in the Arctic by 2020.

Border security

Obama and Trudeau announced Thursday that a new system will be implemented to track entries and exits across the Canada-U.S. border as an increased security measure.

Right now, the border tracking system involves exchanging entry information collected from foreign nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the U.S. at the land border. Citizens of either country are not tracked, but the plan is for the two countries to eventually share information on all travellers crossing the land border.

Obama’s visit

After he welcomed Trudeau for his three-day visit to Washington, Obama said he will visit Ottawa in June as part of the co-called “Three Amigos” summit between the leaders of Canada, U.S., and Mexico.

Obama will also address the Canadian Parliament at that time.

With files from The Canadian Press