Canada announces climate commitment and it’s weaker than it looks

Intro

On Friday, Canada announced it will cut carbon pollution by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of this year’s international climate negotiations in Paris. While any action regarding Canada’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions is an improvement over its current situation, the proposed target is far weaker than pledges from the US and EU. The Canadian plan fails to address the Alberta tar sands—the nation’s largest source of carbon emissions—and relies on questionable carbon accounting practices in the forestry and land use sectors. Canada’s weak climate plan places its people, communities and economy at risk by failing to ensure the country joins the global march toward clean energy. Today’s announcement places Canada alongside Japan as one of the biggest climate laggards in the G7. In a matter of weeks, the G7 countries are slated to meet in Germany and climate change will likely be on the agenda. While Canada’s climate action plan is deeply flawed, it does show that nations are committed to this year’s climate negotiation process as they continue to submit concrete plans for avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.

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RT @350 Canada’s climate goals are in reach… if the tar sands are cleaned up. http://bit.ly/1e5CVqV

Key Points

  • Canada’s plan for cutting dangerous greenhouse gases is filled with loopholes and simply falls short of what’s needed to legitimately combat climate change. 73% of Canada’s skyrocketing carbon emissions over the last 25 years is directly attributable to the the Alberta tar sands, yet this Canada’s climate action plan includes nothing to address the tar sands issue. Instead this plan focuses on international offsets as part of a scheme to reduce carbon pollution while relying on “questionable” carbon accounting practices in the forestry and land use sectors.
  • Canada’s announcement is weaker than it looks, especially compared to recent commitments from governments around the world. The US has committed to cut carbon pollution 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025—five years ahead of Canada’s deadline. The European Union will drastically outpace Canada with its commitment to reduce carbon pollution by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. China also committed to curb emissions last fall, and India plans on delivering an ambitious renewable energy plan this year.
  • The shortcomings of Canada’s climate plan place its people and communities at risk.  From tar sands extraction to pipeline construction, the impacts of Canada’s oil industry to the health and safety of the environment and communities are devastating. Rising emissions are a driving force behind global natural disasters, and in Canada many First Nations communities live along pipeline routes that risk poisoning their land and waterways. Meanwhile, climate change is becoming a major political issue in Canada. In May,  thousands of Canadians protested the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, while just one month later the people of Alberta voted to oust oil-soaked leaders in favor of politicians who have promised to improve the province’s dismal record on climate.

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Quotes

  • “Canada’s climate target is less-than-meets-the-eye and another disappointing sign of its reluctance to fight climate change. Yet again, Canada blithely ignores addressing its largest source of climate pollution, its tar sands oil development. President Obama has one more reason to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, which would be a disaster for the climate and is not in America’s national interest.” Danielle Droitsch, Canada project director at the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • “These targets are a nice gesture, but for now that’s all they are, because the numbers here simply don’t add up. There’s no way Canada can hope to cut emissions by a third while this administration is still pursuing every possible opportunity to dig up the tar sands. Scientists have told us over and over that averting climate disaster means leaving virtually all tar sands in the ground; and until our government starts taking real steps to achieve that, these announcements are little more than pie-in-the-sky PR. Cameron Fenton 350.org
  • “What’s needed is a moratorium on new oil sands development and a complete phase out of coal from the electricity sector combined with a commitment to replace these dirty sources of energy with renewable energy supported by investments in energy efficiency and conservation. Unfortunately, today’s announcement, while a step forward, does not put Canada on track to deep decarbonization.” Louise Comeau, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada
  • “A target consistent with the scientific consensus would see Canada commit to cutting carbon pollution nationally by at least one third by 2025 (35% below 2005) combined with $4 billion annually in international climate finance by 2020 that would aim to generate global reductions equivalent to Canada’s remaining greenhouse gas emissions.” Steven Guilbault, Equiterre
  • “Anyone who has paid attention to the Harper Government through the years should know better than to take them at their word on addressing climate change. One has to look no further than what is not included in these targets — the tar sands — to understand where their priorities lie. If Harper were half as concerned about climate as he is about unchecked development of the tar sands, the world would be a safer – and cooler – place.” David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International

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