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Wilkinson Promises New 2030 Target in ‘Very Near Term’ as Opposition MPs Flag Delays

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson promised to announce measures to exceed Canada’s 2030 target for greenhouse gas reductions in the “very near term”, but refused to say when the government’s wider climate plan would be released, under questioning by opposition MPs at the House Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Wilkinson declared that “climate change is an enormous priority for this government,” without “providing details on how the minority government would still make good on its commitments,” the Globe and Mail reports. “More than a year after the Liberals pledged to exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction targets, legislate targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and plant two billion trees by 2030, the government has yet to move ahead on any of those plans.”

Ottawa is on track to “significantly miss” its notably unambitious, Harper-era target calling for a 30% emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, the Globe adds. The government is blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for the delay in updating the target.

“This time last year, the government’s deadline to release an updated plan for 2030 was the next international climate summit scheduled for this November in Glasgow, Scotland,” the paper adds. “But that conference was postponed in the early months of the pandemic and has been rescheduled to November 2021.”

The government’s two-billion-tree promise is also on hold, with no budget and not a single new tree in the ground. That had Conservative MP Dan Albas reminding Wilkinson that British Columbia managed to plant 314 million trees this year, despite the pandemic.

“With due respect, I think the fact that it was actually in the Throne Speech is a measure of the commitment that this government has,” Wilkinson responded.

Hours after the committee hearing, the House of Commons opened debate on a Bloc Québécois private member’s bill that would require the federal government to follow through on its commitments under the Paris Agreement. Bloc MP Kristina Michaud’s Bill C-215, the Climate Change Accountability Act, “would force the federal government to set five-year emissions targets that will ensure Canada reaches net-zero emissions by 2050, legally bind the government to produce a plan to meet the targets Canada agreed to under the Paris Agreement, and allow the environment commissioner to vet the federal plan,” the Globe writes.

“It was their intention to table a bill like this, but they haven’t done it yet and I think it’s more than time for someone to do it, so it might as well be me,” Michaud told reporter Marieke Walsh.