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Canada Can’t Meet Paris Targets While Scaling Up Oil and Gas

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.

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4 Comments To "Canada Can’t Meet Paris Targets While Scaling Up Oil and Gas"

#1 Comment By Judy Lewis On May 7, 2018 @ 2:14 PM

Canada can easily build an infrastructure of clean energy and phase out fossil fuel dependency. All Canada has to do is to go back to borrowing, at minimal interest, from its own Bank of Canada as we did when faced with the twin challenges of the Depression and WWII back in the 1930s and 40s.
We continued to finance through the Bank of Canada (although not solely, as the Bg Banks and private lenders demanded that Canada borrow from them as well) until the mid 1970s, when neoliberal forces took over the economies of Europe and America through the Bank for International Settlements ( based in Basel, Switzerland).
Neoliberalism has brought us nothing but sky-rocketing debt and austerity and has prevented us from returning to low-cost financing. Neoliberalism’s winners are the Banks and their investors. The losers are the rest of us and the plants and animals that used to live in relative harmony with us. We need to demand from our politicians that we cut ties with greedy neoliberal capitalists and return to using the Bank of Canada!

#2 Comment By Veronica-Mae Soar On May 8, 2018 @ 1:09 PM

So..”The country’s per capita energy consumption is five times the world average, and 30% higher than the United States” Surely that is where efforts need to be made. The populace need to be made aware that energy is a precious resource and is not infinite, and they should be taught and encouraged to be more frugal and less profligate with energy. Other countries have done it – low energy light bulbs in homes and streets, “A” rated domestic appliances. better insulated houses, solar panels on everyone’s roof. There is a long list of actions which every citizen can take, and local councils can do the same.

#3 Comment By Mitchell Beer On May 9, 2018 @ 9:04 AM

Yes! You’ve anticipated story #2 in this morning’s digest! Energy efficiency has always been the first, best, least expensive way to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. It _almost always_ gets short shrift. The one thing to bear in mind is that, while public awareness and demand play an important part, institutions have to smarten up, too: you can be as aware as you want of the tailpipe emissions on your daily commute, but if you live in a far suburb in a sprawled metropolitan area, you need some local planning decisions (actually, to start with, probably a whole new local planning philosophy) to help you deliver on your good intentions.
All of which is very doable…but, remind me, when are municipal elections?