Rising emissions from the oil and gas sector and buildings are overwhelming Canada’s efforts to get its climate pollution under control, the Canadian Climate Institute concludes, in a preliminary analysis of the country’s 2022 emissions data published late last week.
Continued growth in oil and gas emissions accounted for nearly three-quarters of the increase, continuing a “longer-term trend of steadily rising emissions,” the institute warned. “Both sectors have seen substantial increases in carbon emissions since 2005, in contrast with sectors like electricity where emissions have decreased 56% since that time.”
The 2.1% increase over 2021 levels leave the country with just a 6.5% emission reduction since 2005—far short of the federal target of 40 to 45% by 2030, the CCI said in a release. While a variety of climate policies and clean technology deployments reduced emissions by 22.9 million tonnes, or megatonnes, those gains were offset by a 37.1-Mt increase that traced back to strong economic growth rising energy consumption per unit of economic activity.
It’s the second year the CCI has published its preliminary emission estimates, now eight months ahead of the country’s official emissions inventory, to provide a catalyst for faster, better decision-making. The early estimate “shows that climate policy and clean technology are cutting emissions—but that progress is being swamped by the continued rise in emissions from oil and gas, and buildings,” said CCI President Rick Smith. “Acting quickly to cap emissions from oil and gas, reducing methane leaks, and expanding clean electricity will accelerate our progress, while building a more prosperous and competitive future for Canada.”
In a blog post to mark the release, CCI Principal Economist David Sawyer and 440 Megatonnes Project Advisor Seton Stiebert said the numbers show that federal carbon policy and technology deployment are “working”.
But the “growth in national emissions continues a trend of the oil and gas and building sectors driving up Canada’s emissions while most other sectors are reducing,” they added. “While oil and gas and buildings have been a focus of federal and provincial policy for decades, that policy has to get stronger and accelerate if Canada is to contain emissions this decade. Notably, a hard cap on oil and gas emissions and concerted efforts to install heat pumps must be a priority for all levels of government.”
The two authors also pointed to a steady rise in farm sector emissions, with farm fuel use a “particular concern”.
They also called for better climate cooperation [or any cooperation from some?—Ed.] across levels of government to drive faster emission reductions, including “more formalized stock-taking processes” to identify areas where stronger policies would make a difference.
This year’s estimate is a clear sign that strong action and coordination from all levels of government—including the provinces and territories—are needed urgently if Canada is to meet its target,” Stiebert and Sawyer wrote. “That means action on the emissions cap for oil and gas, methane regulations for the sector, Clean Electricity Regulations, Green Building Strategy, ZEV mandate, and others. That’s on top of strengthening the price on carbon emissions through carbon contracts for difference.