Canada joined 36 other countries in May and submitted its
intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC in
advance of the Paris COP 21. Canada's INDC is noteworthy in
that it contains some interesting points. First, Canada has
targeted an economy-wide reduction of 30 percent below 2005 levels
by 2030. In comparison to the US INDC which sets out an
economy-wide target of 26–28 percent below 2005 level in
2025, Canada's target appears more aggressive. However, Canada
has given itself an extra five years to reach this target (33
percent more time than the US), so it is arguably less aggressive.
Another interesting feature of Canada's INDC is that it allows
for the use of "international mechanisms" to achieve its
target. Based on the language "subject to robust systems that
deliver real and verified emissions reductions", such
mechanisms appear to mean offsets or verified emission reductions.
Canada has historically avoided the use of international offsets as
a mechanism for reaching its emission reduction goals, so this is a
departure from that approach and signals what could be the
beginning of Canada joining the international emissions trading
In determining its GHG reduction target, Canada's INDC makes
note of the unique challenges it faces in achieving this goal: a
growing population, extreme temperatures, a large landmass and a
diversified growing economy with significant natural resources. It
notes that despite these challenges, Canada has one of the cleanest
electricity systems among G-7 and G-20 nations and one of the
cleanest in the world, with almost 80 percent of its electricity
supply emitting no greenhouse gases. The INDC also notes that
although Canada represents only 1.6 percent of the world's
greenhouse gas emissions, it is committed to continuing to take
decisive actions in concert with its major emitters to reduce its
emissions through new policies in additional sectors and
coordinated continental action in integrated sectors. The INDC
notes that from 2005 to 2013, Canadian greenhouse gas emissions
decreased by 3.1 percent while Canada's economy grew by 12.9
percent. Lastly, although the INDC addresses the reduction of
methane emissions from the oil and gas sector generally, it does
not specifically address regulating oil sands-related GHG
emissions, other than to say that it will focus on climate-related
investments in innovative production technologies to drive further
improvements in environmental performance in the oil sands and
other growing sectors.
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