Canada is on track to meet its interim emissions reduction goals for 2026 and getting closer to hitting its 2030 target, according to a federal modelling report released last week, while the COP28 climate summit in Dubai was in full swing.
The projection shows the country exceeding its interim objective of reducing emissions 20% by 2026, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) said in a release.
“In 2015, Canada was trending to exceed 2005 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 9% by 2030,” the department wrote. “But since then, many sectors of the economy have made real and measurable progress to lower their emissions, helping Canada successfully bend the emissions curve.”
The news was eclipsed by the long-awaited announcement of Ottawa’s oil and gas emissions cap, though federal cabinet ministers referred to the progress report during their media briefing on the cap. “The data says our climate plan is working,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said at the time.
The report shows Canada’s emissions rising to 815 megatonnes in 2030 under a projection published in 2015, the year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals took office, far above the previous government’s target of 512 Mt. The latest report puts 2026 emissions at 573 Mt, compared to a target of 586. By 2030, Ottawa currently sees emissions landing between 467 and 480 Mt, still above the target of 403 to 439 million tonnes.
All the calculations are based on an international methodology that doesn’t require Canada to count emissions from wildfires, an analyst told The Energy Mix earlier this month. That was after a year in which a federal scientist estimated that carbon dioxide released by wildfires would be more than 2½ times the emissions from all sectors of the Canadian economy.
The ECCC release cited measures announced this month—including the emissions cap and a 2030 deadline to cut oil and gas methane emissions by 75%—that will get the country closer to the 40 to 45% emissions reduction that Ottawa has promised by decade’s end. “With additional actions, and engagement from provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities, the financial sector, and the business sector, Canada can and will meet our emissions reduction target,” the government stated in the executive summary of the report.
Anna Kanduth, director of the 440 Megatonnes project at the Canadian Climate Institute, told CBC the government still has work to do on key aspects of its emissions reduction plan, like the oil and gas emissions cap and the 2035 zero-emission vehicle mandate announced late last year by Environment and Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault.
“That requires quick and effective implementation of all of those policies in the emissions reduction plan,” she said, plus action by other levels of government: “When we look at closing the gap… the onus should not just be on the federal government to close that gap.”
The federal report said 78% of the 149 measures in Ottawa’s plan “are actively being implemented. For regulations this means, at a minimum, draft regulations have been released. For funding programs, it means they are running and accepting proposals to support decarbonization.”
Clean Energy Canada applauded that effort in its own media release. “Since the current government assumed office, it has introduced several cornerstone emission reduction measures, including carbon pricing, which is widely accepted as one of the most cost-effective ways to cut climate pollution,” the Vancouver-based think tank declared.
A spokesperson for Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told CBC the Trudeau government has never met any of its emissions targets. But Wilkinson shot right back during last week’s news conference.
Poilievre “was a member of Stephen Harper’s cabinet when Stephen did nothing to address the climate issue,” he said. “I was in the clean technology sector. I was a CEO. There was despair across the country that Canada was so far out of the conversation on climate.”