Canada Takes Heat for Climate Change ‘Retreat’
The Canadian government faced scathing criticism at home and abroad last Friday after releasing greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 that fall short of its past commitments—which it failed to meet—and include no serious effort to control emissions from the tar sands/oil sands, the country’s fastest-growing source of carbon pollution.
Canada’s commitment to a 30% reduction from 2005 emission levels by 2030 fell short of the U.S. promise of 26 to 28% by 2025. For that year, “Ottawa’s plan translates to a 23.5% reduction,” the Globe and Mail reports.
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“Canada has retreated on past promises to fight climate change, setting out lower targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions than any other industrialized country so far,” The Guardian notes. “That is a far weaker target than the European Union or the U.S. The European Union pledged to reduce emissions by at least 40% from 1990 levels.”
The Canadian plan includes reductions in methane releases from hydraulic fracturing and emissions from natural gas power plants and producers of chemicals and fertilizers, the Globe notes. “Conspicuously absent from that list is the oil sands, despite promises as recently as two years ago that Ottawa would impose regulations on the sector. Instead, Ottawa merely said it would invest in technology to improve the environmental performance of the oil sands.”
Critics asked why Ottawa had even bothered to publish a 2030 commitment. “I’m confident they have no intention of meeting that target,” said Megan Leslie, deputy leader of the Opposition New Democratic Party. “Let’s look at the last targets they set. We’re not even halfway there.”
The Guardian agrees that the new target is “less ambitious than the one Canada set in 2009—which it is unlikely to meet because of the vast expansion of Alberta tar sands production under the prime minister, Stephen Harper.”
NRDC’s Danielle Droitsch notes that the new target pulls Canada away from its 2009 commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, representing “another disappointing sign of its reluctance to fight climate change. Yet again, Canada blithely ignores addressing its largest source of climate pollution, its tar sands oil development. President Obama has one more reason to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, which would be a disaster for the climate and is not in America’s national interest.”