Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased marginally in 2017, from 708 to 716 million tonnes, driven mostly by increased oil and gas production, according to the national inventory the country filed this week with the United Nations climate secretariat.
“It was the first substantial increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions from Canada since 2014, and the bulk of the increase came from oil and gas production,” The Canadian Press reports.
“The uptick pushes Canada even further away from its Paris climate change agreement pledge to slash emissions to 70% of what they were in 2005 by 2030,” CP notes. “Canada needs to get emissions to no more than 511 million tonnes by 2030 to meet its pledge, even though international scientists last year warned the country must have steeper reductions to prevent the impacts of a warming planet from becoming impossible to mitigate.”
With emissions down 2% between 2005 and 2017, Environment and Climate Minister Catherine McKenna said the country’s “strongest” greenhouse gas reduction measures hadn’t yet been implemented in the year covered by the inventory report. “Canada’s climate plan is working, and the overall trend in emissions is downward toward 2030,” she said.
The report showed emission reductions in electricity generation, chemical production, and small vehicles, offset by larger vehicle use, home heating during a cold 2017 winter, and oil production, CP states. Oil and gas production accounted for one-sixth of the country’s emissions, with production alone logging a six-megatonne increase over 2016, when the Fort McMurray wildfires cut production for two months.
Greenpeace Canada Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart noted that tar sands/oil sands emissions eclipsed the output from most provinces—showing the federal government will have trouble delivering on its climate promises as long as it keeps trying to boost oil and gas exports. “That is the dilemma at the heart of Canadian climate policy,” he told CP. “You can’t actually do both.”