Canada will not achieve its 2020 GHG emission reductions target: Report

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has released a new ministerial report on progress toward Canada’s 2020 emissions reduction goals.

To sum up:

Canada will not achieve its 2020 GHG emission reductions target unless significant new, additional measures are taken. More will have to be done. No other conclusion is possible.

In fact, Canada is likely to achieve less than half of its emissions reduction target for 2020.

The country has an emissions reduction target for 2020 of 17% below 2005 levels. To get there, Canada needs to be at 607 Mt C02e in 2020. Current federal, provincial and territorial policy trajectories are anticipated to miss this target, hitting 734 Mt. We face an what NRT calls an “emissions gap” of 127 Mt, a gap that could grow to 149 Mt under a pessimistic scenario they model. Even considering proposed policies from provincial and federal governments, we are far, far short of our emissions target.

NRT also warns: “It is getting harder, not easier, to achieve Canada’s climate policy goals”. They point to points to three significant challenges:

  1. A short time frame to 2020, less than 8 years, means many of the available emissions reductions needed are now high-cost.
  2. A lack of coordination by governments.
  3. Continued emissions growth from some economic activities, especially in the oil and gas sector.

NRT’s advice to the Environment Minister:

  1. Create a federal/provincial/territorial ministerial-level climate policy forum that meets annually.
  2. Increase collaboration between provinces, fostered by the Council of the Federation.
  3. Provide detailed plans for future regulatory action.
  4. Introduce a base-level carbon pricing regime for the Canadian economy, that other governments could stack additional pricing programs on to.
  5. Provide better reporting, information and modelling for more flexible decision-making.

Canada’s activity continues to dangerously disrupt the climate. That we are so far behind in meeting even our meagre emissions reduction targets makes the current government’s elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy a disgrace. Even “conservatives” are condemning the government’s move on this.

Delaying our emissions reductions is a false economy – and 2020 may still be too late to avert runaway global warming.