Canada has virtually no chance of fulfilling its 2030 commitments under the Paris agreement if it continues to scale up oil and gas production, veteran earth scientist David Hughes concludes in a report released last week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute.
“The rest of Canada’s economy would have to reduce emissions by almost 50% over the next 12 years to meet its 2030 climate targets if oil and gas production increases as projected by the National Energy Board,” the Star Vancouver reports, citing the report. “By 2040, emissions from the rest of the economy would need to be down 85%.”
“I would suggest that’s virtually impossible,” Hughes told the paper.
While Caroline Thériault, spokesperson for federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, said Canada can meet its targets by accelerating various elements of the Pan-Canadian Climate Framework, University of British Columbia environment and natural resource professor George Hoberg said “Hughes is right” in his assessment.
“I don’t think there’s any disagreement about that beyond the spin rooms in Ottawa,” Hoberg wrote in an email. “Trudeau and Co. can only make their claims about the economy and environment going hand in hand by postponing the inevitable day of reckoning for Canada, and especially Alberta.”
The report notes that Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of hydroelectricity, but still meets 76% of its energy demand with fossil fuels. The country’s per capita energy consumption is five times the world average, and 30% higher than the United States.
“The bottom line is we need a plan and we really don’t have one at this point in time,” Hughes said.
“Getting carbon emissions out of our energy system, and rolling out the massive infrastructure buildup of clean energy necessary to provide the energy services we need, are arguably humanity’s most formidable challenges between now and mid-century,” Hoberg added.