Concerns that target doesn’t align with science
VANCOUVER — Canada’s new 2030 target to reduce carbon emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels, while an improvement over previous targets, falls dangerously short of what the world’s science says is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“We want Canada to do its part to keep the most catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency from happening,” said Ian Bruce, acting executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation. “This target, unfortunately, falls short of what is needed to keep on track for a livable planet and compared to the EU and other leading G20 countries including the U.S. It’s been uplifting to see Canada ramp up its climate efforts over the past year, but our ultimate goal must be to recognize the urgency of this crisis and Canada’s responsibility to resolve it. A stronger target will guide Canada’s climate emergency plan and policies, ensuring they mobilize clean energy solutions quickly enough and marshal the resources needed.”
Analysis by Climate Action Network Canada determined that a “fair share” emissions reduction target would be 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This accounts for climate science, Canada’s relative ability to take climate action and its historic position among the world’s worst emitters over the past century. Canada’s new target, and any updates over the next few months, will be part of the larger package known as the nationally determined contribution brought forward this year as part of Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
“A bolder target — in line with leading countries — is not only essential for a better quality of life and economic decarbonization, it is also what Canadians have been calling for across the country,” said Sabaa Khan, Foundation director general for Quebec and Atlantic Canada. “Showing climate ambition is the only way to avoid severe disruption and serves as a catalyst for jobs, investments, cleaner air and a green and just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A 2030 climate target rooted in science and equity is just one part — although an important one — of an effective climate strategy. Meeting targets also requires holding governments to account and a strong national climate plan. The Foundation is calling for Bill C-12, Canada’s climate accountability legislation, which stalled in the House of Commons, to be immediately brought back for debate.
“Canada’s focus on growing exports of bitumen and fracked gas is a roadblock to a target that keeps the world from dangerous climate change,” Khan said. “We can’t allow oil and gas interests to dictate the limits of Canada’s climate policies.”
“When Canada finalizes its official 2030 climate target in advance of the November global climate meeting, it must be stronger than 45 per cent,” Bruce said.
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Canada’s fair-share target
- In December 2019, Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-Rac) published analysis for Canada’s “fair share” greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2030. This analysis accounts for climate science, global equity, Canada’s historic emissions and its relative economic and technological ability to take climate action.
- It concludes that Canada’s fair share emissions reduction target for 2030 is 140 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is broken down into a recommendation for 60 per cent emissions reductions (445 Mt CO2eq) from domestic action and a further 80 per cent emissions reductions (594 Mt CO2eq) from international mitigation efforts supported by Canada’ financial contributions of at least US$4 billion annually.
- Infographic for CAN–Rac’s “fair share” targets
The IPCC Special Report on 1.5 C of Global Warming
- In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a landmark special report on the science, pathways and efforts needed to reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting average global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. A global emissions reduction target range in the report is often cited as the scientific consensus for the level of action needed to meet the Paris Agreement goal:
- “global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions [must] decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 (40–60% interquartile range), reaching net zero around 2050 (2045–2055 interquartile range).”
- It is crucial to differentiate global average emissions reductions from the emissions reductions achieved in each individual country. Canada is among the countries that have a responsibility to reduce emissions much more, and more quickly than the global average. The Special Report on 1.5 C also makes differentiated responsibilities clear:
- “Collective efforts at all levels, in ways that reflect different circumstances and capabilities, in the pursuit of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, taking into account equity as well as effectiveness, can facilitate strengthening the global response to climate change, achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty (high confidence).”
Canada has a reputation as an oversized polluter
- Canada is the only G7 country to increase its emissions since 1990. As the climate crisis worsened over the past decade, Canada was the only country in this group whose emissions continued to climb.
- Canada has a history of weak climate targets, and has yet to meet even one.