It’s one thing for Canada’s Prime Minister to urge provincial/territorial premiers to establish a nation-wide price on carbon. But “pledging to establish a carbon price is virtually meaningless,” political scientist George Hoberg warns in Policy Options, “unless you specify the price and design, and demonstrate how it will achieve Canada’s target.”
Canada’s Liberal government has so far retained the target set by its Conservative predecessor to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. But even when more aggressive climate plans launched in the last year in Alberta and Ontario are taken into account, Hoberg observes, “Canada would only be half-way to its target, 110 megatonnes of CO2 short.”
His pessimism was validated again this week, when an analysis by the Pembina Institute, factoring in recently-announced climate initiatives in Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, found that on its present track Canada will in fact fall 185 Mt short of its goal.
For Hoberg, who teaches at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, “a meaningful climate plan needs to have, at minimum, a measurable target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions over a specified time period; second, enforceable policies that can reasonably be expected to achieve that climate target.”
He concludes that Canada “is doing reasonably well on the first ingredient, but is a long way from putting the second in place.”
Hoberg calls on Ottawa “to do what federal governments are supposed to do: show real leadership on vitally important national policies. Canada doesn’t just need carbon pricing—we need carbon pricing and climate policies that are actually strong enough to meet our commitments to the international community and future generations.”
Earlier this year Mark Jaccard, a professor of sustainable energy at the School of Resource and Environmental Management at UBC’s cross-town rival, Simon Fraser University, speculated in the same publication that “in order to achieve the 2030 target, a Canada-wide carbon price starting at $30 in 2017 must jump $10 each year to reach $160 in 2030.”