A report released today titled Canada’s Emissions Trends shows projections to 2020 with a significant and growing gap for targets even under variable economic growth and energy resource development scenarios.
With current measures in place, emissions are now projected to be 734 megatonnes – 122 megatonnes higher than Canada’s target of 612 megatonnes under the international treaty signed in 2009, according to the Environment Canada report.
But, the report notes “significant progress” and says emissions would have risen to 862 megatonnes if no action had been taken by consumers, businesses and governments since 2005.
Environment Minister Leona Agglukaq, during question period on Thursday, said the Conservatives – unlike the Liberal government before them – "have reduced emissions."
Agglukaq also noted the Harper government has introduced coal power regulations and harmonized vehicle emissions regulations with the U.S.We're getting results," Agglukaq said.
Canada’s commitment under the Copenhagen Accord is to cut emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, which is aligned with the U.S.
An internal government analysis shows that while emissions intensity continues to decline and Canada is making progress, there will still be a substantial gap in meeting the target.
An environmental action group decried the report saying the Canadian government is dragging its feet when it comes to protecting the environment.
"The alarming numbers in today’s report demonstrate a failure to be on track to meet our climate goals," said Hannah McKinnon, the national program manager at Environmental Defence Canada.
McKinnon said the federal government could take action by introducing federal regulation for the oil and gas sectors to see emissions go down.
While more federal regulation to oil and gas and emissions intensive and trade-exposed industries would lead to greater reductions, the report concedes this will not be enough for Canada to achieve its target.
Last year’s report also projected a sizable shortfall by 2020, but said upcoming federal policies, in particular oil and gas regulations, along with other provincial measures, would push Canada to meeting its Copenhagen commitments.
This year’s report notes that emissions projections depend on evolving economic and energy variables and are subject to “significant uncertainty.”
"In addition, future developments in technologies, demographics and resource-extraction will alter the future emissions pathway,” it reads.
The federal government has adopted what it calls a “sector-by-sector” approach, and has imposed regulations for transportation and electricity, two of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Plans to further reduce emissions include regulation for the oil and gas sector; natural gas electricity generation and “emissions intensive trade exposed industries” including chemicals, fertilizers, aluminum, iron and steel, cement, and pulp and paper.
The report also predicts that if trend lines continue in all the sectors, Canada will only cut a total of three megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.