In late December, Canada quietly submitted its sixth report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), opting not to accompany the submission with an announcement or press release. The government reported a trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, largely attributable to the rapidly expanding oil sands, and admits that Canada is on track to miss the 2020 emissions reduction targets committed to in Copenhagen. The report emphasizes the “sector-by-sector” approach to emissions reduction programs, but also indicates that a lack of policy intervention in the oil and gas industry could mean Canada’s emissions will exceed the 2020 target by 20%, and continue to grow another 33% by 2030. Canada has not indicated how it plans to address its difficulties with meeting its targets, and in December, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the long-awaited release of oil and gas regulations could be delayed for another two years. The issue may be a factor in President Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline decision, which he has said would be influenced by Canada’s climate plan.
By contrast, the US submission to the UNFCC contains specific goals associated with the Climate Action Plan implemented by President Obama last summer. The submission was further substantiated by the January 16th release of a progress report on the Plan, outlining US federal initiatives to reduce carbon pollution and increase energy efficiency.
Canada’s Sixth National Communication and First Biennial Report on Climate Change (January 2014): The Executive Summary is available at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/Publications/default.asp?lang=En&xml=109109A8-6636-418C-B743-94CD3459FB6B, and the full report is available at: http://www.unfccc.int/files/national_reports/non-annex_i_natcom/submitted_natcom/application/pdf/final_nc_br_dec20,_2013%5B1%5D.pdf.
“Emissions will Soar after 2020 without Oil-sector Regulation, Federal Report Says” in the Globe and Mail (Jan. 8, 2014) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/emissions-will-soar-after-2020-without-oil-sands-regulation-federal-report-says/article16250220/.
“Canada’s New Emission Rules on Hold Again, Harper Says” in the Globe and Mail (Dec. 19, 2013) is at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadas-new-emissions-rules-on-hold-again-harper-says/article16065033/.
2014 U.S. Climate Action Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is available at: http://www.state.gov/e/oes/rls/rpts/car6/index.htm.
January 2014 Progress Report: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan is at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/fact_sheet_-_cap_progress_report_2014-01-16.pdf.