As we have noted in previous posts in the WCR , many voices have warned that Canada’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is falling short of its commitments under the Paris Agreement. Three recent reports provide more evidence.
On March 27, Perspectives on Climate Change Action in Canada—A Collaborative Report from Auditors General—March 2018 was released by the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and for the first time ever, compiles the findings of the federal and provincial Auditors –General, with the exception of Quebec, which did not participate. The results are presented for each province, and summarized as: Seven out of 12 provincial and territorial governments did not have overall targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; governments have different targets from each other, and of those that have targets, only two (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) are on track to meet their targets. Most governments had not fully assessed climate change risks, and their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consist of high-level goals, with little guidance on how to implement actions. At the federal level, the report states: “ even though Environment and Climate Change Canada was the federal lead on climate change, the Department did not provide the leadership, guidance, and tools to other departments and agencies to help them assess their risks and adapt to climate change. Moreover, only 5 federal departments and agencies of the 19 examined undertook comprehensive assessments of the climate change risks to their mandates.” There was limited coordination of climate change action within most governments. Some governments were not reporting on progress in a regular and timely manner.
The second analysis is from the Pembina Institute, which partnered with the Energy Innovation of San Francisco to develop the Energy Policy Simulator (EPS), an economic modelling tool to evaluate the effectiveness and costs of energy and climate policies for Canada. Enhancing Canada’s Climate Commitments: Building on the Pan-Canadian Framework applies the Energy Policy Simulator to three different policy scenarios, including the Pan-Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change , and concludes “ that even if the PCF is fully implemented, 2030 emissions will exceed Canada’s goal by 161 million metric tons (MMT), a gap 3.7 times larger than the 44 MMT shortfall predicted by Canada’s government. Extending and strengthening PCF policies would allow Canada to come much closer to its target, save money, and save human lives.” The Energy Policy Simulator is offered here as a free, open-source app available for other researchers to use.
Finally, the devil is in the details when author Barry Saxifrage of the National Observer took a close look at the federal government’s report to the UNFCC in December 2017, the 7th National Communications report. In “Canada’s climate gap twice as big as claimed – 59 million tonne carbon snafu” (March 27) , the author contends that “The Trudeau government says its proposed climate policies will get Canada to within 66 million tonnes of our 2030 climate target. That’s already a big gap, but the federal accounting also assumes we can subtract a huge chunk of Canada’s emissions.” That “huge chunk” refers to a further 59 MtCO2 of carbon emissions which the government omits to tally as part of our Canadian emissions, presuming that offsets will be purchased by Ontario and Quebec through their participation in the cap and trade market of the Western Climate Initiative with California. So far, the U.S. has not agreed to such an arrangement.