Canada outlines $9B plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030

Climate watchers are eager to see how the federal government will hold itself accountable as a new greenhouse gas reduction plan is tabled Tuesday in Parliament.

The government’s detailed, sector-by-sector roadmap for curbing emissions in the country by 40 to 45 per cent of 2005 levels by the end of the decade — is now a legal requirement under a new net-zero accountability law the Liberals passed last year.

The 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan – Canada’s Next Steps for Clean Air and a Strong Economy projects electricity emissions will be almost zero by the end of the decade but it will take longer to see real progress from the transportation sector.

It announces more than $9.1 billion in new investments, including more than $1 billion in efforts to move towards electric vehicles, as well as millions in support for farmers and communities to adopt cleaner practices in the journey to zero emissions.

Alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Vancouver Tuesday morning, Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault claimed the plan is feasible.

“We’ve taken a big step forward today towards our 2030 target,” Guilbeault said, adding the plan will “set course for better days to come.”

The oil and gas sector will have to reduce its emissions by over 30 per cent from 2005 levels and over 40 per cent from today’s levels. No specific caps were announced but it is in the process of being developed.

“For 10 years, under the Harper Conservatives, nothing got done on fighting climate change on reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector on preparing for the future that everyone saw clearly was coming. And that’s why the work we have to do yes, is ambitious, but it’s also realizable,” Trudeau said.

“We have spoken extensively with leaders in the oil and gas sector who actually themselves recognize the need to get to net zero by 50,” he said, adding “these are plans that are consistent with that objective that they have themselves laid out and we see the innovations and the leadership that the energy sector across Canada is investing in renewables which is moving towards cleaner technologies.”

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The natural resources minister also addressed the current Russia-Ukraine crisis and Canada’s pledge to increase energy production by some 300,000 barrels per day to European countries. The move comes in an effort to help with global energy security so they no longer have to rely on Russia.

“For those who say we shouldn’t help our European friends, I think the vast majority of Canadians would say that’s ridiculous. I think for those who would say we should forget about climate change, I will tell you it has not gone away, it remains an existential threat. We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to be able to help our European friends and account for all of the various emissions and accelerate the work as Europe is focused on doing towards renewables and hydrogen and a clean growth economy,” Wilkinson said.

Climate advocates want less talk – more action

In the past, Canada has outlined 11 plans and nine different emissions targets since 1988 — none of them ever met.

“The reason Canada has historically missed every single one of the emissions targets it has set for itself is not because our targets were too ambitious,” Climate Action Network Canada policy manager Caroline Brouillette said.

“In fact, it’s quite the contrary. The reason we haven’t reached these targets is because of a critical lack of climate governance in Canada,” she said.

That is supposed to change, however, under the new accountability legislation.

“I would say the government has a critical opportunity to present a plan that fills this gap in accountable, credible, ambitious, thorough, and inclusive planning that we have not seen in Canada yet,” Brouillette told CityNews.

That includes timelines and clearly defining which minister is responsible for each specific emissions reduction measure.

But, she says there is an “elephant in the room” in terms of Canada’s climate policy.

“That is the continued expansion of the oil and gas sector. Even though we have reduced the emissions produced by every barrel of oil produced in Canada, we have expanded production. That means, over time, our emissions from that sector have increased, and today they are the largest share of our economy’s emissions at 26 per cent.”

Brouillette believes the oil and gas industry needs to do its “fair share” to mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions.

“If one sector doesn’t do its part, the burden will fall on other sectors of the economy, other workers and other consumers.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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