POLITICS

Canada sets carbon emissions reduction target of 30% by 2030

05/15/2015 11:04 EDT | Updated 05/15/2016 05:59 EDT
Canada will announce today it will commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, an ambitious target made possible in large part by the success of the provinces in reducing their own emissions.

The announcement will be made today in Winnipeg by Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

CBC News has learned Aglukkaq will also announce new rules to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, which makes up a significant portion of the industry's total emissions.

There will also be new rules to control emissions from an electricity sector that is burning more natural gas, and new standards to limit emissions from the chemical sector.

The federal government is also counting on low oil prices to keep industrial development — and its related emissions — lower.

Above all, it is counting on emissions reductions by the provinces, including a 37 per cent reduction below 1990 levels announced on Thursday by Ontario, to help meet its goal.

Carbon credits needed?

But sources say Canada will also have to buy international credits to get to its goal. Those credits invest in green projects in other countries and balance out rising emissions in Canada. That's something the Conservative government had vowed not to do in the past, with former environment minister John Baird calling them "hot air credits."

The 30 per cent target will come as a surprise to many environmental groups, who noted that Canada is not on track to meet even its existing target to reduce emission by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

European leaders agreed in October to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent compared to 1990 levels. And the U.S. has set a target of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

While Canada has traditionally linked its targets to those of the United States, the prime minister announced earlier this year that would not be the case. But, Stephen Harper told reporters, Canada's targets would be in line with its partners.

Canada is required to release its emission targets for the G7 conference in Germany early next month. That meeting is in preparation for a crucial climate conference being held in Paris at the end of the year, where almost 200 countries will pledge their plans to cut carbon emissions over the next decade and beyond.