Emission projections show Canada on track to achieve interim climate target


The latest emissions projection data suggests Canada is on track to achieve its interim climate target and is getting closer to achieving its 2030 climate goal.

Environment and Climate Change Canada released new modelling on Thursday showing the country’s latest emissions pathway.

The projections are contingent on Canada following through with the full suite of policies announced in its 2030 emissions reduction plan, and the policies the federal government has announced since. It also includes measures that provincial and territorial governments are undertaking.

The modelling shows that Canada’s climate-altering emissions should decrease by mid-decade, bending the curve toward the interim 2026 climate target.

Ottawa established an interim 2026 climate target under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.

That plan calls for a 20 per cent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2026 — 586 megatonnes, down from 732 megatonnes.

The latest projections say Canada is on track to hit 573 megatonnes by 2026.

“So the data says our climate plan is working,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told a news conference Thursday.

The release of the emissions progress report coincided with the announcement of Ottawa’s regulatory framework for capping oil and gas emissions.

The latest projections show Canada is on track to surpass its previous 2030 target of a 30 per cent emissions cut below 2005 levels. That target was set by the government of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.

“In 2015, Canada was trending to exceed 2005 greenhouse gas emissions levels by nine per cent by 2030, but since then, many sectors of the economy have made real and measurable progress to lower their emissions,” says a news release from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

WATCH | How will the oil and gas emissions cap work? 

Canada introduces emissions cap for oil and gas industry

The federal government has revealed how it will set an upper limit on greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade system for the country’s biggest emitter, the oil and gas industry.

An energy think-tank applauded the government after the report was released.

“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,” says a press release from Clean Energy Canada.

On Thursday, Wilkinson criticized the climate records of Harper and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

“(Poilievre) was a member of Stephen Harper’s cabinet when Stephen did nothing to address the climate issue,” said Wilkinson. “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.”

Reached for comment, the Conservatives blasted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate and economic record. The Tories also spoke about their approach to tacking climate change.

Common-sense Conservatives will use technology, not taxes, to lower emissions. We will remove the gatekeepers and green light green projects to bring home our industry and good jobs,” said Sebastian Skamski, director of media relations for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

“After eight years of Justin Trudeau, his inflationary taxes and deficits are sending millions of Canadians to food banks and forcing middle class families to choose between eating and heating this winter.

“All the while they punish Canadians with a carbon tax, he and his activist environment minister have not met a single one of their own emissions targets.”

CBC asked Conservatives to clarify the latter part of the statement since the only climate targets set by the Trudeau government are in 2026 and 2030. Whether Canada officially achieves those objectives are yet to be determined.

The Trudeau government did miss the 2020 climate target that Harper committed to under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. Under the Conservatives Canada committed by 2020 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels. Canada wasn’t far off: emissions fell by an estimated 16 per cent. 

Feds still have work to do

Canada is still not on track to meet its enhanced 2030 targets, set under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The latest modelling forecasts the country will overshoot its goal of reducing emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels. The projections say it won’t reach that target until 2035.

That’s still an improvement on the previous year’s report, which showed Canada would not hit the target until after 2035.

Modelling shows Canada could reduce its emissions by 36 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 — a two per cent improvement on previous projections.

But there’s still work to do to close the gap.

Anna Kanduth, a director with the Canadian Climate Institute, said Ottawa needs to follow through on policies in its emissions reduction plan, like the zero-emission vehicle sales mandate and the oil and gas cap.

“That requires quick and effective implementation of all of those policies in the emissions reduction plan,” Kanduth.

Canada is required to release emissions progress reports under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act in 2023, 2025 and 2027.

It reports actual emissions annually through its national inventory reports — that reporting lags behind by about two years. The latest report shows Canada’s economy released 670 megatonnes in 2021.

According to the most recent projections, reported emissions for 2022 are expected to increase before falling this year.

In a news release, Environment Canada said it is working on more ways to reduce emissions. It said it’s updating existing methane regulations for oil and gas producers, finalizing the cap on oil and gas sector emissions and releasing and implementing the green buildings strategy.

Plans for the marine, rail and aviation sectors are also in development, the department said.

The Canadian Climate Institute, meanwhile, points out that Ottawa’s emissions projections also rely on provinces and territories following through with their policies.

“When we look at closing the gap … the onus should not just be on the federal government to close that gap,” Kanduth said.

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