Canada’s report to the UNFCC shows an increase in GHG emissions

ghg emissions_NIR 2018As required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), Canada submitted its National Inventory Report on April 14, available from the U.N. website.   The Executive Summary   at the Canadian government website  announces that the Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 729 million tons of CO2 and equivalent in 2018, (the latest figures available).  This is an increase of 15 million tons from 2017, and a reduction of only 1 million tons from 2005 – making Canada’s Paris Agreement target of a 30% reduction from 2005 levels a very challenging goal. The Executive Summary attributes the 2018 performance  to “higher fuel consumption for transportation, winter heating and oil and gas extraction.” The Toronto Star summarizes the official report in  “Canada’s emissions count jumped 15 million tonnes in 2018 from previous year, report shows” (April 15) ; a summary also appeared in The National Observer, focused on British Columbia.  The federal Green Party press release points out that Canada has missed the February deadline to submit its new target for Nationally Determined Contributions, and calls for Canada  to reduce our GHG’s to 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.  (In comparison, the latest EU target under debate is a 55% reduction by 2030  ).

The full National Inventory Report presents statistics since 1990, and analyses trends by region and according to industries – including energy, industrial processes, agriculture, land use (forestry) and waste management. It also measures emissions in 2018 by important gases, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Carbon dioxide (CO2) accounted for 80% of Canada’s total emissions. Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions (76% of which come from agriculture) accounted for 5%  in 2018, a 2.4% decrease from 1990 levels. Synthetic gases (HFC’s, PFC’s, SF6 and NF3) constituted slightly less than 2% of national emissions.

Canada’s other big polluter: methane

According to Canada’s National Inventory Report, methane accounted for 13% of Canada’s total emissions in 2018, an increase of  1% since 1990.  43% of those emissions are attributed to fugitive sources in oil and natural gas systems and another 31% from agriculture.  The  International Energy Agency  also tracks methane emissions from the oil and gas industry here , and in February 2020 summarized and critiqued Canada’s new policies to reduce methane emissions attributable to the oil and gas industry.   Methane (CH4) is a growing concern for global GHG emissions – as reported in an article in  Scientific AmericanMethane levels reach an all-time high” (April 12) , which summarizes recent reports by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) .

New Ontario Environment Plan steps backwards on emission reduction ambitions

On November 29, the Ontario government of Doug Ford released its promised climate change proposals in a new report, called Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan. The government will  continue consultation, with public submissions accepted here until January 28 2019,  and  pledges to establish an Advisory Panel on Climate Change.  The major focus of the plan is to establish a Carbon Trust of $400 million over four years, which includes a $50 million ‘reverse auction,’ through which the government will fund private sector clean technology proposals.  It commits to an 8% emissions reduction over the next 12 years, a much less ambitious target than that of the previous Liberal government.  Reaction has been almost universally negative, as compiled by Climate Action Network Canada and by the CBC in “Ontario Climate change plan includes fund to help big polluters reduce emissions”  (Nov. 29) .  The Ecofiscal Commission offers a detailed critique and assessment in “Up in the Air” ;  the Pembina Institute  states  “The plan weakens Ontario’s carbon pollution reduction targets by 27 per cent…. The plan released today contains mainly aspirational statements and plans to make plans.”

Green party 2018 leaping into the futureThe Ontario Green Party calls the Ford government plan a Litter Reduction Plan, not a climate plan . The Green Party’s own Climate Plan, Leaping into the future: A comprehensive strategy for reducing Ontario’s emissions, was released on November 15, and sets a  100% carbon neutral by 2050 target, and a return to carbon pricing.

 

Highlights of Climate and Energy Policy Changes from Summer 2015:

Alberta: The Climate Change Advisory Panel was appointed and a consultation process begun, based on the Climate Leadership Discussion Document . The Pembina Institute issued a backgrounder, Opportunities to Improve Alberta’s climate strategy (Aug. 21)   and convened a Alberta Climate Summit on September 9  including a variety of stakeholders.

In late summer, a Royalty Review Advisory Panel was appointed to examine and lead public discussion concerning royalties for crude oil and liquids, natural gas, and oil sands.

British Columbia: A review of the Climate Leadership Plan began in July, with the release of a Discussion Paper. In December 2015, a draft Plan will be released for public comment, with a final Climate Leadership Plan promised for Spring 2016. Also in July, a consultation period began re proposed regulations under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act , expected to come into force in Fall 2015.

In a special session of the Legislature in July, the B.C. government passed controversial legislation which sets the terms for the $36 billion Pacific Northwest LNG project at Lelu Island.

British Columbia, as a member of the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC), joined with California, Oregon, and Washington, to launch the West Coast Electric Fleets initiative , “a toolkit for public and private fleet managers to quickly assess opportunities for ZEVs and access useful incentives and resources to assist with procurement.”

Nova Scotia and British Columbia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on July 21, pledging to share research and technology related to tidal energy.

Nova Scotia discontinued its Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) program for local renewable projects on August 6. A DeSmog blog article provides background and details.   The government promises a new electricity policy, including for renewables, in Fall 2015.

 

Ontario: In July, Ontario and Quebec jointly hosted the Climate Summit of the Americas, which resulted in the signing of a Climate Action Statement    by Ontario and 22 other states and regions.

Feeling the Heat: Greenhouse Gas Progress Report 2015  was released by the Acting Environmental Commissioner on July 7, stating that, although Ontario met its GHG reduction targets for 2014, it is unlikely to achieve its 2020 targets with the current policies in place.

Ontario Climate Change Lab: Solutions for   Ontario’s Climate Challenge  reports on a one-day multi-stakeholder workshop that produced a series of actionable recommendations for the provincial government to include in its climate change strategy.

Quebec: On September 11, Quebec and Ontario signed Memoranda of Agreement regarding increased trade in electricty, and collaboration on the cap and trade system currently under development in Ontario. They also committed to attend COP21 in Paris, to which end, the government of Quebec, on September 17, proposed Canada’s most ambitious target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction – 37.5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. The proposal follows the recommendations of the Climate Change Advisory panel , tabled in the Legislatureon the 17th. (in French only).

In August, Quebec, California, and The Netherlands announced the launch of the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance (ZEV Alliance) to accelerate global adoption of electric vehicles. The press release states that the number of ZEVs registered in Quebec has increased by 134 percent over the last 16 months, thanks largely to government incentives and a well-developed public charging infrastructure.

Atlantic Provinces and U.S. Governors : Adopted a regional target of shrinking carbon pollution by 35% – 45% below 1990 levels by 2030  at the 39th annual meeting of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP).

And around the World:

Australia:  Bipartisan agreement brought about the new Renewable Energy Target legislation  on June 23, after an 18 month review. A new GHG reduction target of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 was announced on August 11, and is included in the Australian government INDC submission to the UNFCC in advance of the Paris climate talks.  The New Scientist  compares this to the U.S. pledge of 41 per cent by 2030, and the UK by 48 per cent (converting to Australia’s 2005 baseline year).  The  Climate Action Tracker website analyses the goals  and ranks them “inadequate”.

At the end of June, the Australian Climate Roundtable  was formed through the alliance of major Australian business, union, research, environment, investor and social groups, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Industry Group, the Business Council of Australia, The Climate Institute, the Energy Supply Association of Australia, the Investor Group on Climate Change and WWF Australia.

On September 14th came the stunning news that Tony Abbott had been replaced as Prime Minister by Malcolm Turnbull. However,  the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on September 15 that Turnbull has signaled no change to Australia’s climate policies.

China :   China submitted its climate action plan to the UNFCC on June 30,   vowing to peak its emissions by 2030 at the latest, to cut its carbon emissions per unit of GDP to 60-65 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, to increase renewable and nuclear power to 20 percent of the country’s energy portfolio, and to increase its forest cover by 4.5 billion cubic meters from 2005 levels by 2030.

European Union:  The EU restructured its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) as part of the renewal of its Energy Union Strategy .The European Commission announced changes to the Emission Trading Scheme on July 15 . Under the new plan, only 50 economic sectors (including heavy industries such as steel and cement manufacturing) will receive free allowances, down from the current 177.

France: The Energy Transition for Green Growth legislation was approved on July 22, with far-reaching provisions: a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030 ; to halve the country’s energy usage by 2050, with a reduced share of fossil fuels in energy production, a cap on nuclear power at 63.2 gigawatts and a goal of 32% of energy production from renewables , and a four-fold increase of the carbon tax on fossil fuel use, to €56 per ton in 2020 and €100 in 2030.

The Netherlands: On Sept. 1, the Dutch government announced it will appeal the Courts’ June decision in the landmark Urgenda case.

United Kingdom:  The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change announced surprising cuts to its renewable energy programs, including solar PV, biomass conversion, and a consultation re changes to the Feed-in-tariff program. Cuts to subsidies to off-shore wind farms had been announced in June  . As a result, “UK drops out of top 10 renewable energy ranking for first time”  according to the latest quarterly report of EY consultants on September 16. Meanwhile, fracking    continues to gain government favour in the U.K., with the third of a series of task force reports released on September 17. And on September 17, the U.K. government announced that Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed a former consultant to major oil and gas companies as his key adviser on energy and environment policy heading into the U.N. Paris climate talks.

This, in spite of the fact that 24 of Britain’s learned scientific societies issued a joint communique on July 23, urging the British government to curb greenhouse gas emissions through drastic reductions in the burning of fossil fuels, and a shift towards energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Two substantial reports on climate change risks and policy were tabled in the House of Commons over the summer: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change: 2015 Progress Report to Parliament   (June 30)  ; and Climate Change: A Risk Assessment .

Two out of Three – U.S., Mexico Submit their INDC Targets – but Not Canada

March 31st was the deadline set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for each nation to submit a statement of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to greenhouse gas emission reduction, as a precursor to the climate discussions in Paris in December. The United States set an ambitious economy-wide target to reduce emissions by up to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025. Read the White House Fact Sheet: U.S. Reports its 2025 Emissions Target to the UNFCCC.

Reductions will be accomplished primarily through fuel economy standards, energy efficiency for buildings, limiting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and reducing emissions from existing power plants. The statement by Mexico was the first by a developing country, and pledges a 22 per cent reduction of GHG emissions and 51 per cent cut in black carbon emissions by 2030. Prime Minister Harper promised our INDC submission by May, and lowered expectations, according to a Globe and Mail article (April 23) “Harper suggests Canada likely won’t match U.S. emissions targets”. All INDC submissions are cumulated at the UNFCC website.

 In addition, the U.S. and Mexico issued a joint statement which states, “The two countries will launch a new high-level bilateral clean energy and climate policy task force to further deepen policy and regulatory coordination in specific areas including clean electricity, grid modernization, appliance standards, and energy efficiency, as well as promoting more fuel efficient automobile fleets in both countries, global and regional climate modeling, weather forecasting and early alerts system”. Two countries – not including Canada. 

Climate Action Policy Prescriptions for Canada

Two sets of recommendations were recently released: on March 18, by a new academic collaboration, Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD); and on March 19, in the Alternative Budget published annually by the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis. The Sustainable Canada Dialogues document, Acting on Climate Change: Solutions from Canadian Scholars, and a french-language version,  Agir sur les changements climatiques, are characterized  as “a scholarly consensus on science-based, viable solutions for greenhouse gas reduction”.

Sixty academics from across Canada combined to urge policymakers to adopt a long-term target of at least an 80% reduction in emissions by mid-century. “In the short-term, we believe that Canada, in keeping with its historical position of aligning with US targets, could adopt a 2025 target of a 26-28% reduction in GHG emissions relative to our 2005 levels”. Policy recommendations include, most immediately: Either a national carbon tax or a national economy-wide cap and trade program; elimination of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; and integration of sustainability and climate change into landscape planning at the regional and city levels so that maintenance and new infrastructure investments contribute to decarbonizing.

The paper also advocates establishment of East-West smart grid connections to allow hydro-producing provinces to  sell electricity to their neighbours; energy efficiency programs, and a “transportation revolution”. The Acting on Climate Change document will be followed by a special issue of Alternatives Journal magazine, to be released on March 27, to include more detailed articles by 20 of the SCD participant authors. Sustainable Canada Dialogues, launched in September 2014, is partnered with three institutions in Panama, and “proposes to advance sustainability education, research and social dialogues in Panama and in Canada”.

The second statement of recommended climate policies appears in the CCPA Alternative Budget for 2015, Delivering the Good. The Alternative Budget, like the government budget statement that it shadows, covers the full range of economic and social issues facing Canada. It also includes a section on the Environment and Climate Change, which states: “The best current budget opportunities include implementing a price on greenhouse gas emissions through a carbon tax; not subsidizing liquefied natural gas (LNG) or hydraulic fracturing (fracking); protecting Canada’s public lands and species at risk; and supporting power storage through accelerated expense write-offs, electric vehicles through fast-charging recharging stations in high-demand areas, and public transit and energy efficiency home retrofits”. A National Harmonized Carbon Tax should be implemented immediately, at $30 a tonne (the current level in British Columbia), increasing to $200 a tonne by 2020. More than half of the HCT revenues should be used to provide a Green Tax benefit for individuals and the remainder transferred to the provinces to fund “climate change abatement measures”. It is estimated that the carbon tax would generate annual revenue of $16 billion, with the Green Tax Refund incurring a net annual cost of $8.8 billion (p. 28).   Is the time finally right for serious consideration of Canada’s climate change policies? As Environmental Defense reported on March 9, NDP, Liberals and Greens agree on an Approach to Assess Carbon Pollution Reduction. Calling it “a step in the right direction”, the blog describes the February 19 debate in the House of Commons around Bill C-619, the Climate Change Accountability Act, a private members bill introduced by NDP Matt Kellway in June 2014. NDP, Liberals and Greens are now on record as supporting the Bill’s accountability measures and the target of  domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions to at least 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

New GHG Emission Reduction Targets for the U.S. Federal Government

The Federal government of the U.S. operates 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and spends $445 billion annually on goods and services, making it the largest consumer of energy in the country. To reduce GHG emissions, an Executive Order by President Obama on March 19 mandates that Federal buildings reduce total energy use by 2.5% per year between 2015 to 2025, and increase the proportion of clean energy to 25% by 2025. Water intensity in Federal buildings will also be cut by 2 percent per year till 2025. Regarding the fleet of 650,000 vehicles, the Order establishes a goal of 30% reduction of GHG’s from 2014 levels by 2025. A White House Fact Sheet, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Federal Government and Across the Supply Chain (March 19) provides more details, and summarizes the emissions reductions commitments made by major suppliers in the federal government supply chain. Those suppliers include such giants as IBM, HP, AECOMM, Northrup Grumman, and United Technologies.

 

Getting Back on the Climate Track with “Made in Canada” Policies

A new report from the David Suzuki Foundation overviews Canadian provincial and municipal policies that have effectively reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and calls upon the federal government to implement national policies that would coordinate and expand the ingenuity and skills of the existing green workforce. Building on the Best: Keeping Canada’s Climate Promise, also suggests that Canada would now be on track to meeting its 2020 targets if the best policies had been implemented in 2009, when Canada committed to action in Copenhagen.

The report focuses on policies that eliminated coal power, boosted renewable energy, and put a price on carbon, along with low-carbon transportation, energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, and landfill and biogas. Ontario’s staged coal phase-out, together with the introduction of the Green Energy and Economy Act, is lauded as evidence that major changes can be made rapidly and that green economics can be fruitful; the burgeoning Ontario renewable energy industry has created more than 20,000 jobs so far. B.C.’s carbon tax is commended for its rigor and broad application, while Québec’s cap-and-trade system is favoured for its ability to link to international markets.

The report considers the application of successful policies to other jurisdictions in Canada, with each province given policy recommendations, and then rated according to their emissions reduction potential if the best policies were implemented. Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Atlantic provinces have the most potential for improvement. Building on the Best is based on a technical report, Progress on Canadian Climate Policy, commissioned by DSF and prepared by Navius Research.

Superlatives for the U.S.-China Agreement on Climate Change, and what it Means for Canada

Media superlatives signal the importance of the surprising climate change announcement by the U.S. and China on November 11. President Obama pledged that the U.S. will emit 26 to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005, and will double the pace of reduction it had previously targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020. China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, and that clean energy sources would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030.

See the White House press release and the White House Fact Sheet. For a summary of U.S. reactions, see the Blue Green Alliance at “What Leaders are Saying about the Historic Agreement”.

What is the impact in Canada? A Globe and Mail article stated that the agreement would put pressure on Prime Minister Harper to act on climate change, yet columnist Jeffrey Simpson wrote, “Leadership means a willingness to spend political capital on an issue, and in Canada’s case, there is no such leadership at the top. That this absence would suddenly shift as a result of a China-U.S. understanding is improbable in the extreme”.

Alberta’s new premier Jim Prentice announced that the province will “stiffen” its regulations for fossil fuel extraction. “It’s the desire of Alberta to be participatory in any sort of international agreement that we can arrive at, modeled on what the United States and China have been able to achieve”. When the U.S. – China agreement was announced, Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, accompanied by green business leaders, had just returned from a trade mission to China.

According to the University of Victoria PICS Newscan, Guelph’s Canadian Solar Solutions signed a $70-million deal to build solar energy plants in China, and China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group signed an agreement for future collaboration.  

Canada will miss 2020 Copenhagen Emissions Target, says Environment Commissioner

The Report from the Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development states that, in addition to failing to develop a national framework, enact any legislation that targets climate change, or release long-awaited oil and gas regulations, Canada’s tar sands monitoring is inadequate, neglects cumulative impacts, and lacks a plan beyond next year. The tar sands are Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions. Commissioner Gelfand also highlighted uncertainty surrounding which projects are subject to an environmental assessment and inadequate public and aboriginal consultation following the introduction of Bill-C45 in 2012, which profoundly altered environmental legislation in Canada. She also noted the dire need to improve planning in the Arctic, as shipping increases in the absence of updated navigation information or emergency response strategies.

Read the 2014 Fall Report of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development at: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201410_e_39845.html (English), and http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/Francais/parl_cesd_201410_f_39845.html (French). The Commissioner appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development to discuss her report on October 8; see the transcript at:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6723122&Language=e&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2(English), and http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=6723122&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2&Language=F (French). See “Highlights of the Environment Commissioner’s Fall Report” from the CBC at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/highlights-of-environment-commissioner-s-fall-report-1.2790164.

For reaction see “Commissioner’s report shows Canada must do more for environment” from the David Suzuki Foundation at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/10/commissioners-report-shows-canada-must-do-more-for-environment/; “Treading Water on Climate Change: Sierra reacts to Environment Commissioner’s Report” from Sierra Club Canada at: http://www.sierraclub.ca/en/report-fail; and “No Overall Vision:” Scathing New Audit from Environment Commissioner Exposes Canada’s Utter Climate Failure” from Desmog Canada at: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/10/07/no-overall-vision-scathing-new-audit-environment-commissioner-exposes-canada-s-utter-climate-failure.

Cities Making Progress in the Fight against Climate Change

A new global network, The Compact of Mayors, was announced at the New York Climate Summit in September, to expand city-level GHG reduction strategies; make existing targets and plans public; and make annual progress reports using a newly-standardized measurement system that is compatible with international practices. The new Compact will work with existing organizations and global networks of cities (C40, Cities Climate Leadership Group, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). See a summary at: http://www.iclei.org/details/article/global-mayors-compact-shows-unity-and-ambition-to-tackle-climate-change-1.html, read The Compact document at: http://www.iclei.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ICLEI_WS/Documents/advocacy/Climate_Summit_2014/Compact_of_Mayors_Doc.pdf, or see the World Resources Institute blog at: http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/09/compact-mayors-cities-lead-tackling-climate-change-un-summit/.

At their annual meeting on September 23, the B.C. Mayors Climate Leadership Council reviewed their accomplishments since the group was founded 5 years ago. Climate Action Plans have been established in 50% of municipalities in British Columbia, covering 75% of B.C.’s population. 31 local governments achieved carbon neutrality for their operations in 2012. See the press release at: http://www.toolkit.bc.ca/News/BC-Municipalities-Marching-Ahead-Climate-Action. For more information about action in cities across Canada, see the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection latest National Measures Report at: http://www.fcm.ca/Documents/reports/PCP/2014/PCP_National_Measures_Report_2013_EN.pdf (the PCP is part of the global ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability). See also Best Practices in Climate Resilience from Six North American Cities (from City of Toronto, June 2014) at: http://www1.toronto.ca/City%20Of%20Toronto/Environment%20and%20Energy/Programs%20for%20Businesses/Images/16-06-2014%20Best%20Practices%20in%20Climate%20Resilience.pdf.

The Carbon Disclosure Project surveyed 207 cities worldwide in its new report, Protecting Our Capital: How Climate Adaptation In Cities Creates a Resilient Place for Business. The survey included the following Canadian cities: Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Brandon, Winnipeg, Burlington, Hamilton, London, Toronto, and Montreal. The report attempts to identify the alignment of how companies and the cities in which they operate perceive climate-related risks. It finds most commonality in recognizing risks from increased temperatures and heatwaves, which have immediate impacts across the public and private sectors. It is assumed that cities that develop reasonable risk assessment and reduction strategies will be better positioned to attract and retain business. See https://www.cdp.net/CDPResults/CDP-global-cities-report-2014.pdf.

New European Targets for Emission Reductions and Renewables

On October 24, members of the European Union reached agreement on new emissions targets for 2030: 40% cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, 27% target for the renewable energy market share and, an optional target of 27% increase for energy efficiency improvement. The EU is holding up the agreement as a model for other countries in advance of the Paris climate talks of 2015, though like all politically-driven compromises, it has its critics. According to Greenpeace EU: “People across Europe want cleaner energy, but EU leaders are knocking the wind out of Europe’s booming renewables sector”, and from the European Green Party, “It is shameful that the council gave veto power against better goals to Poland on renewables, to France on interconnectors, and to the UK on efficiency. […] We used to have a polluter-pays-principle; now we’ve gotten a polluter-vetos-principle”.

See The Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/eu-leaders-agree-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-40-by-2030; Statements and Reactions are found at: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/eu-priorities-2020/eu-leaders-adopt-flexible-energy-and-climate-targets-2030-309462.

Oil and Gas Sector Contributed Almost One Quarter of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On April 11th, a Friday afternoon, Environment Canada quietly released its annual national greenhouse gas emissions inventory, as required by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). National emissions decreased by 0.3% between 2010 and 2012, but overall trends confirm that Canada is on track to significantly miss its commitment to a 17% decrease by 2020. Most provinces have cut their overall emissions, although Alberta’s have increased by 7% between 2005 and 2012, mainly because the oil sands experienced an 80% emissions increase. The oil sands alone now account for 9% of total Canadian emissions, while the oil and gas sector overall contributes about one quarter.

Signs of progress are emerging in the manufacturing and transportation sectors, and electricity emissions intensity is decreasing, largely attributable to efficiency improvements and the Ontario coal phase-out, which reduced the province’s electricity emissions by 56%.

Reaction from P.J. Partington, an analyst at the Pembina Institute, calls for Canada to make good on its promise to introduce national oil and gas regulations. See National Inventory Report 1990-2012: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada at the Environment Canada website at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=En&n=3808457C-1&offset=6&toc=show (English version), and http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=Fr&n=3808457C-1 (French version).

For P.J. Partington’s blogs, go to “Big shiny trends: Canada’s new emissions numbers” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/789; “Oil Sands Talking Point collides with Reality” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/787; and “Getting Back in Gear: Oilsands Climate Performance” at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/788. The U.S. released its UNFCC National Inventory documents in the same week, showing that U.S. emissions are now 10% below 2005 levels, the lowest they have been in 20 years. Go to: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.

Recommendations for Québec’s Next Energy Policy Emphasize Energy Efficiency, Support Pipelines

A 2-person commission appointed to review energy issues in Québec reported to the government in January 2014, generally recommending a change in direction to emphasize energy efficiency and limit new infrastructure investment. According to a report in the Montreal Gazette on March 2 (http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Quebec+needs+energy+course+panel/9570190/story.html), the recommendations included: set a goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2050; study the possibility of suspending phases 3 and 4 of the Romaine River hydroelectric project; stop or suspend wind, cogeneration and small-dam projects that have not yet been built; support TransCanada’s west-east oil pipeline, conditional on study by the province’s environmental review board; support Enbridge’s Line 9B oil pipeline; improve public transit; update the provincial building code to improve the energy efficiency of buildings; and support the construction of a natural-gas pipeline connection to the Gaz Métro network to replace heating oil with natural gas. The Energy Consultation website is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/ (English version), and http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/ (French version). The report and briefs presented to the Commission are available only in French.

Canada Reports Climate Progress: 2020 Targets Further out of Reach as Oil Sands Emissions Rise

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.

LINKS:

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.

GHG Emissions around the World: the Latest Statistics

On November 6, the World Meteorological Organization released the 2013 edition of its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, showing that “between 1990 and 2012 there was a 32% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.” The volume of CO2 grew faster in 2012 than in the previous decade, reaching 393.1 parts per million (ppm), 41 % above the pre-industrial level. Read the WMO press release, with links to related documents in English and French, at: http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_980_en.html

GHG Emissions in Canada

In releasing the 2013 Emissions Trends report in October, the Canadian government stated: “as a result of the combined efforts of federal, provincial and territorial governments, consumers and businesses, GHG emissions in 2020 will be 734 megatonnes (Mt). This is 128 Mt lower than where emissions would be in 2020 if no action were taken to reduce GHGs since 2005.” (The report did not state that it is also 122 Mt above Canada’s target level of 612 Mt.) The government will maintain its current course of regulating emissions on a sector-by-sector basis- in other words, no improvement, no national leadership. Canada’s Emissions Trends 2013 report (and those from 2011 and 2012) are at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=En&n=985F05FB-1. See the Pembina reaction to the government report at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2488; and the Pembina October backgrounder concerning how the oil sands contribute to Canadian emissions, at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2486.

GHG Emissions in United States

On October 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released greenhouse gas data from its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, which provides information from over 8,000 facilities in the largest emitting industries, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills, and landfills. It provides carbon pollution emissions and trends broken down by industrial sector, greenhouse gas, geographic region, and individual facility. It also measures production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) predominantly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning. See the program homepage at: http://www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/; a press release at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/eecb62db73ee67b485257c0d0058936b!OpenDocument. Note that the more comprehensive U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory data was released in April 2013; see: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html.

International GHG Emissions

The Emissions Gap Report 2013 released on Nov. 5 by the United Nations Environment Program is the fourth produced. It reviews the latest estimates of current global greenhouse gas emissions; national emission levels, both current (2010) and projected (2020), and global emission levels consistent with the 2°C target for emissions in 2020, 2030 and 2050. New to this report is an assessment of the extent to which countries are on track to meet their national pledges, and also a description of the many cooperative climate initiatives being undertaken internationally. Also, noting that agriculture accounts for approximately 11% of GHG emissions, the report includes a chapter on the agricultural sector, including policies for reducing emissions. Read the press release at: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentId=2755&ArticleId=9683

With the full report at: http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEPEmissionsGapReport2013.pdf.

Quebec Energy Review Aims to Encourage Renewables and Develop Hydrocarbons

A review of Quebec’s energy strategy is underway, with public consultations from September to October 11, and the final strategy document promised in 2014. The six strategic objectives to the energy review are: “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; promote the electrification of transportation and develop the industry; promote energy efficiency in all sectors ; rely on the production of renewable energies (hydroelectricity and wind energy) and develop alternative renewable energies (underwater generators, passive solar energy, geothermal energy, and so on) and foster development and innovation; responsibly explore and exploit Québec’s hydrocarbon reserves; and ensure the long-term security and diversity of Québec’s energy supplies.” The Public Consultation on Energy Issues in Quebec website is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/ (English) and http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/ (French language). 

The Consultation paper From Greenhouse Gas Reduction to Québec’s Energy Self-Sufficiency – Consultation Paper, is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/pdf/energy-issues-consultation-paper.pdf. An archive of all written briefs submitted to the Commission is available at the French language section of the website only, at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/documents/memoires.asp

Recommendations from Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner

In the 2013 annual report of Ontario Environmental Commissioner, released on June 5, statistics are provided for GHG emissions on a sectoral basis, for transportation, industry, buildings, electricity, agriculture and waste. Transportation remains the biggest emitter of GHGs in Ontario, and passenger vehicles remain the greatest contributor. The Commissioner found that the government is likely to achieve only 60% of the reductions necessary to meet its own 2020 target for a 15% reduction from 1990 levels. He criticizes the lack of coordination between the province’s Long-term Energy Plan and its Climate Change Action Plan, and cites the upcoming review of the LTEP as “an excellent opportunity to further integrate government policy on these two interrelated issues”. He also states that putting “a price on carbon is the best tool I can think of” for improvement.

Read Failing our Future, Review of the Ontario Government’s Climate Change Action Plan Results Report at: http://www.eco.on.ca/uploads/Reports-GHG/2013/2013GHG.pdf, or the summary at: http://www.eco.on.ca/index.php/en_US/pubs/greenhouse-gas-reports/2013-ghg-failing-our-future

 

Should Alberta be the Model?

A Policy Brief released by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in May summarizes the current proposals under negotiation for national GHG emission regulation in Canada, and then models the economic and emissions impacts of four scenarios for the year 2020.   

The IISD judges that the negotiations are likely to use Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) as the standard.  The paper concludes that “While all proposals on the table will deliver emission reductions at costs that seem reasonable, a 40 per cent intensity standard with a two-tiered price ceiling could strike a good balance.” 

See Regulating Carbon Emissions in Canada: Oil and Gas Greenhouse Gas Regulations: The Implications of Alternative Proposals is at http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2013/oil_and_gas_ggr.pdf.