Canada will not meet its emissions targets: audit   Leave a comment

IMG_2156On October 8, 2014, Julie Gelfand released her first report as Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. As her predecessor had done in 2012, Gelfand warned that Canada “will not meet its international greenhouse gas 2020 emission reduction target”—a 17% reduction from 2005 levels—and “does not have an overall plan that maps out how Canada will achieve this target.”

Furthermore, the commissioner said: “Canadians have not been given the details about which regulations will be developed, when, nor what greenhouse gas reductions will be expected. Finally, the federal government has not provided the necessary co-ordination so that all levels of government, working together, can achieve the national target by 2020.”

The sustainability audit drew several opposition questions in the House of Commons, with Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq responding that Canada’s emissions are lower than they were before the Conservatives took office in 2006. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even got involved, stating, “Under our government, we have lowered greenhouse gas emissions and, at the same time, been able to grow the economy.”

The Canadian Press tested these responses in an edition of its regular Baloney Meter, assigning a rating of “a little baloney,” or mostly accurate “but more information is required.”

The article quoted David McLaughlin, former head of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, who said these and other recent federal statements on emissions reductions are “a classic example of accuracy versus veracity.” In other words, it’s “accurate without being true—in the sense that it’s accurate the numbers show that, but it’s not true in showing we’re on a path to reducing overall emissions and to meet targets.”

McLaughlin explained the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession did more to lower Canadian emissions (by reducing demand for all goods, including Canadian resources) than any federal regulations. It is also due to the government’s unwillingness to go after major emitters while leaning on provincial success stories, for example Ontario’s elimination of coal power from its energy grid.

On launching her first report, Gelfand pointed out that “regulations in the oil and gas sector—where emissions are growing the fastest—are still not in place eight years after the government first indicated it would regulate this area.” There is also generally not enough consultation outside the oil and gas industry, she said.

“Given its commitment to be a world-class regulator, Environment Canada should publish its plans for future regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the oil and gas regulations, with sufficient detail and lead time, so that consultations with interested and affected parties can be transparent and broadly based, and the parties can plan effectively.”

—The Monitor

https://www.policyalternatives.ca

This report is taken from the CCPA Monitor, November, 2014, page 21 – a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

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