American progressives have long looked north of the border longingly. However, when it comes to tackling climate change, that should no longer be the case, as a recent report by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development indicates.
The report found that even if all the measures in the Canadian government’s climate change plan had been implemented and the total expected greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions achieved, it still would not have been enough to meet the Canadian government’s Kyoto Protocol target. The commitment requires Canada to reduce its GHG emissions to an average of six percent below 1990 levels during the Kyoto Protocol commitment period, from 2008 to 2012. In order to meet the target, GHG emissions would have to be reduced by an additional 805 million tons by 2012.
Under the Canadian government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the actual reductions for 2008 and 2009 were only six million tons. The government’s plan estimated that total emissions reductions for 2008 to 2012 would be 27 million tons. The plan does not meet the requirements of the 2011 Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act because, as the report points out, the “measures it describes will not ensure that Canada meets its greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations. ”
The Canadian government will use a sector-by-sector approach to meet its target of reducing GHG emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, a target set internationally in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. The report found that the sector-by-sector approach “lacks an overall implementation plan designed to achieve the 2020 target.”
In July 2011, Environment Canada released Canada’s Emissions Trends and it indicated that in 2020 the country’s GHG emissions will be 7.4 percent above 2005 levels instead of 17 percent below. The 2020 target, according to Environment Canada’s forecasts, will not be met with existing measures.
The Parliament passed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act in 2007 to make sure that Canada would meet its commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Last year the Canadian government announced its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. However, the Act remains in effect as an Act of Parliament and the government must meet the obligations set out in that Act.
Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent responded to the report by defending the government’s actions to reduce GHG emissions. “Our government is working with its provincial, territorial and other partners to take decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ” Kent said in a statement.
Kent added that the government is “making significant progress” to reduce its GHG emission by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 “through a sector-by-sector plan.” It makes you wonder if he actually read the report.
While Canada stalls on reducing its GHG emissions, the U.S. has yet to pass climate change legislation. Both countries can take a cue from their southern neighbor. Last month, Mexico passed a climate change law, making it the second country in the world after the U.K. to pass national climate legislation.
Photo: Flickr user, alexindigo