On May 15, 2015, the federal government announced that it will
commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent
below 2005 levels by 2030. New regulations for Canada's oil and
gas sector, as well as regulations on natural gas electrical
plants, will be introduced. Canada's Environment Minister,
Leona Aglukkaq, stated that she will be meeting with
provincial environment ministers in June to discuss potential
avenues to reduce emissions.
The 30 per cent target is a significant increase over
Canada's current target to reduce emissions by 17 per cent
below 2005 levels by 2020. To put the 30 per cent reduction into
perspective, according to recent reports, Canada will have to reduce its
emissions from the 726 megatons emitted in 2013 to 515 megatons in
2030 in order to meet its target. In comparison, the United States
has pledged to cut its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent from 2005
levels by 2025. Additionally, Mexico has pledged to cut emissions
by 25 per cent by 2030 and the European Union has agreed to reduce its emissions on 1990 levels
by 40 per cent by 2030.
To meet its goal, Canada will have to rely heavily on the
provinces to reduce emissions within their own boundaries. Ontario
recently set its own 2030 target of a 37 per
cent reduction from 1990 levels, while British Columbia had previously committed to a 33 per cent
reduction from 2007 levels by 2020. In Alberta, the oil and gas
industry anxiously awaits the changes in climate change policy
promised by the new NDP government, including possible cancellation
of the carbon capture and storage program and phasing out of coal
fired electricity generation. Alberta is the number one greenhouse
gas emitter amongst the provinces, with 267 megatons emitted in
2013. This figure is expected to rise to nearly 300 megatons by
Notably, on June 2, 2015, Alberta's newly enacted
Environment Minister announced that new climate-change regulations
would be introduced by the end of June. Details remain to be seen,
but an increase in the current $15-a-tonne levy for carbon
emissions from major industries is expected.
Whether Canada can hit its new target remains to be seen.
According to Environment Canada, Canada's emissions are
actually projected to increase slightly between 2015 and
2020, when they are projected to reach 727 megatons. There is no
question, however, that Canada's emission target will continue
to gain international and domestic scrutiny, particularly with the
upcoming G7 conference in Germany on June 7 and 8, 2015, and the
United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Paris in
late November, 2015.
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