Canada moving slowly towards greenhouse targets

Environment Canada’s latest emissions trends report reveals Canada is on track to fulfilling its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. Yet Alberta is having mixed success in helping Canada achieve its goal.

Alberta and B.C. were the only provinces to increase emissions since the previous report in 2011. Environment Canada attributes this increase to Alberta’s oilsands and B.C.’s natural gas projects as well as Alberta’s increasing reliance on coal-generated electricity while the rest of Canada is moving away from coal. Alberta’s emissions are also expected to be significantly higher by 2020 while the other provinces’ are projected to decrease.

Since signing the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 Canada has been working to achieve the 2020 target primarily by regulating the country’s two heaviest emitters: light transport and electricity generation.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent cited the report in Parliament touting Canada’s progress in emissions reduction. However Pembina Institute climate policy analyst P.J. Partington says in a press release “the federal government’s policies still leave a huge gap between where Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are headed and the government’s promise to reduce climate pollution.”

Reduction efforts have led to a change in the projected 2020 emission levels from a 2011 projection of 785 megatonnes to an estimated 720 megatonnes this year — still well above the target of 607 megatonnes. The amount of GHG projected to be produced in Canada in 2020 if no action was taken was 850 megatonnes.

Canada accounts for two per cent of total world GHG emissions with 0.5 per cent of the world population.

Japan the U.S. and China together make up nearly 75 per cent of world emissions.