Key to new emissions reduction plan’s success will be urgent implementation, fixing key shortcomings, including higher cap on oil and gas sector emissions
VANCOUVER | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORIES OF THE xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) FIRST NATIONS – The release of Canada’s first 2030 emissions reduction plan under the new Zero Emissions Accountability Act is an encouraging step for climate action.
“This plan has a better chance of success than any of Canada’s previous climate plans,” David Suzuki Foundation climate team lead Sabaa Khan said. “Sector-by-sector emission projections linked to specific measures enable the accountability that will help Canada stay on track. If the plan is to have its desired effect of doing Canada’s fair share to address the global climate crisis, key shortcomings must be addressed. Greater clarity to limit the role of carbon offsets and removal technologies like carbon capture and storage are critical. It’s encouraging to see the government committing to act quickly to achieve nearly half the planned emission reductions by 2026.”
The Emissions Reduction Plan will help transition Canada away from its reliance on polluting fossil fuels, reducing exposure to volatile global energy prices and disruption. It will also help increase energy efficiency in homes and buildings, improving affordability and resilience to climate impacts.
Important parts of this plan include:
- For the first time, a focus on reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector, Canada’s largest and still growing source of emissions.
- Efforts to reduce emissions in the building sector, including reduced use of fossil fuels for heating, and EnerGuide labelling for homes at time of sale.
- New details on regulations to accelerate the shift to zero-emission vehicles.
- Significant investment ($9B) to support implementation, including significant new funding ($180 million) committed to support Indigenous-led clean energy and efficiency projects.
Key shortcomings include:
- Oil and gas sector emissions cap, while significant, is set well below the 40 to 60 per cent that analysis shows is possible.
- Too much emphasis on carbon capture and storage — which has proven less effective than expected — risks delaying mitigation.
- Transparency surrounding carbon offsets and explicit limitation of their use is missing.
- Canada has committed to reducing emissions by 40 to 45 per cent, but this plan will only hit the low end of the range. Canada’s fair share globally is a 60 per cent reduction.
“We need rules that ensure carbon offsets are real, that they protect nature and have the full support and leadership of Indigenous nations,” Foundation nature team lead Jay Ritchlin said. “We can’t afford more greenwashing or offsetting as ways out of direct emissions reductions.”
“Climate data and modelling will also be key to this plan’s success,” Foundation senior climate policy adviser Tom Green said. “This includes transparency in modelling to seize opportunities, avoid dead ends and measure progress, and in the transition to net-zero.”
Last month, the world’s leading authority on climate science, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released its latest report, further confirming governments worldwide are not doing enough to grapple with the worsening climate crisis. A leaked version of its next report — focused on climate mitigation, and set for release on April 4 — says global greenhouse gas emissions must peak and start to decrease over the next four years.
In May, the Foundation will release first-of-its-kind modelling in Canada showing how the country can clean up its electricity grid in line with 2050 net-zero targets.
“For the first time, the oil and gas sector is required to reduce its emissions, but at 31 per cent, government stopped far short of the 45 to 60 per cent that analysis shows is possible,” Green said.
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