Ottawa will miss 2030 emission targets, says federal audit

'Since 1990 the federal government has developed more than 10 plans to reduce emissions,' said the federal report. 'Despite these efforts Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions were higher in 2021 than they were in 1990.'

Ottawa will miss 2030 emission targets, says federal audit
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The feds are expected to miss their 2030 emissions target, according to an audit by Environment Canada’s commissioner. Despite a commitment to reach ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2050, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has failed to make meaningful reductions in Canada’s greenhouse gas output.

"Are you saying Canada is the only G7 country that hasn’t reduced emissions since 1990?" asked a reporter. "Yes," replied Jerry DeMarco, commissioner of the environment and sustainable development. "Canada is the only one that has not reduced emissions since 1990."

Over the past two decades, DeMarco’s report said Canada only reduced carbon emissions significantly during the 2008 financial crisis and during the COVID pandemic. Yet, he contends those reduction efforts had very little to do with emissions reduction policy, reported the CBC.

In accordance with the Kyoto Protocol, Canada pledged to cut total emissions to 5% below 1990 levels. The Liberal Party would later adopt the Paris Climate Accords with a commitment to cut emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

In March 2022, Trudeau’s government published their Emissions Reduction Plan to ratify those commitments and to best determine how they would meet that target.

"While the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan included important mitigation measures to reduce emissions, some of these measures, such as the Oil and Gas Emissions Cap and the Clean Fuel Regulations, have been delayed," said the audit, Canadian Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act: 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan.

"We found that the measures most critical for reducing emissions had not been identified or prioritized," it added, condemning Ottawa’s "overly optimistic assumptions" and "significant delays" in implementing measures.

According to DeMarco, less than half of the measures have no completion deadline. Yet, the federal government is still projected to reduce emissions by 34% of 2005 levels — down from initial projections of 36.4%. 

"The 34% is Environment Canada’s own projection," said DeMarco. "We have not been able to verify the accuracy of that."

"That needs to change now," he added.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault admitted the commissioner is correct — that work is still to be done to meet the 2030 targets. "We still have major initiatives under development and will continue to look for more opportunities to reduce emissions," he said, acknowledging they "need to do more and […] to do it faster."

Per the report, the absence of "high-quality" modelling makes it "not possible to know which of the mitigation measures to reduce emissions were key."

"[…] there has been no sustained downward trend in Canada's emissions since 2005," it added, suggesting Canada’s emissions could even increase.

The Environment Commissioner in the report wrote Cabinet has not taken sufficient steps to "improve the transparency" and "reliability of its economic and emission modeling" despite repeated recommendations from his office. The audit acknowledged the gaps in coverage remain a problem. 

Guilbeault contends the audit used outdated data on emissions from the previous year and that they had some "good news" on emission reductions for this year.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, he did not dispute figures cited by DeMarco, who concluded Canada was the only G7 country not to cut emissions in 30 years.

"Since 1990 the federal government has developed more than 10 plans to reduce emissions," said the report. "It has spent billions of dollars on developing and implementing plans. Despite these efforts Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions were higher in 2021 than they were in 1990."

"They’ll need measures that will actually fill that gap," DeMarco told reporters. "And we’re releasing this report early to help them course correct in order to meet the target as opposed to coming in late and just explaining why they didn’t meet another target."

A promised 40% reduction is equivalent to 296 million tonnes of emissions, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. The figure is greater than all yearly emissions from all road vehicles in Canada.

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