A year after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and most provincial/territorial premiers agreed on a plan to deliver on the country’s carbon reduction goals, governments are falling behind on the nuts-and-bolts implementation to bring their promises to life.
“Canada is currently not on track to achieve its 2030 emissions reduction target, and will almost certainly miss its 2020 target,” the Pembina Institute noted yesterday, in a release to mark the upcoming first anniversary of the pan-Canadian climate framework (PCF). “Canada’s 2017 National Inventory Report shows that Canada’s emissions totaled 722 megatonnes in 2015—only 2% below 2005 levels, and an increase of 18% above 1990 levels,” with nearly half of the emissions coming from upstream oil and gas production and transportation.
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“The pan-Canadian climate plan was a critical turning point in Canada’s response to climate change,” Federal Policy Director Erin Flanagan said in a release. But now, federal, provincial, and territorial governments “need to pick up the pace to ensure these hard-won policy measures are effectively implemented”.
In its report card on the more than 50 climate and “clean growth” initiatives that make up the pan-Canadian plan, issued along with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, Environmental Defence, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and Climate Action Network-Canada, Pembina notes that “political will is still high, but so is the inventory” of greenhouse gases the country is emitting.
“Canada’s economy experienced a sustained decrease in economic activity from 2007 to 2009, which was partly responsible for the national emissions decline from 758 Mt to 696 Mt over this period. Since then, national emissions have steadily increased: carbon pollution grew by 5% in the six years from 2009 to 2015,” the report states. Oil and gas emissions have grown 20% since 2005, and “emission reductions in some sectors will be undermined by likely growth in emissions in the oil and gas sector” between 2005 and 2030.”
The report gives governments three stars on a one-to-five scale for their work on carbon pricing, three for decarbonization in the electricity sector, two for their efforts on transportation emissions, three for progress in the buildings sector, and two for improvements in industrial sector emissions.
“While it’s tempting for governments to slip into ‘election mode’ well in advance of the writ being dropped (and Canada has numerous upcoming elections), signatories to the PCF simply cannot afford to take their eyes off policy implementation,” Pembina writes. To the close the gap between current performance and the country’s 2030 target, “we offer several recommendations: extend the pan-Canadian carbon price up to C$130 per tonne of pollution by 2030, implement Canada-wide zero-emission vehicle legislation, ban the sale of internal combustion engines, and establish long-term energy efficiency targets.”
The need for domestic action has implications at the international level, as well. “Canada’s credibility on the international stage rests on its ability to successfully implement measures to achieve its 2030 target, and further, to extend ambition in line with international expectations,” Pembina notes. “Successful implementation of the PCF is essential to realizing both aims,” and will set the stage for Canada to commit to a more aggressive 2030 target—as the Paris process badly needs countries to do.
In a release coinciding with the Pembina report, Montreal-based Équiterre notes that action on most of the commitments in the pan-Canadian framework is still a work in progress.
“The federal government’s stated political will calls for concrete action if we want to meet, or even exceed, the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030,” said Senior Director Steven Guilbeault.
Équiterre points to methane regulations for oil and gas producers, the 2030 target date for phasing out coal-fired electricity generation, increasing the number of zero-emission vehicles across the country, and carbon pricing as elements of the pan-Canadian leadership that call for consistent federal leadership.