With the climate conference wrapping up this week in Bonn, Germany, the UN released its Emissions Gap Report for 2017, highlighting some of the successes in emissions reduction schemes around the world. Canada was not on that list. Despite its natural beauty, vast forests, and health-inspired population, Canada fails in major areas with respect to its commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
With 2030 fast approaching, Canada is projected to exceed its target of reducing emissions by 30 per cent of 2005 levels, or approximately 200 megatons of carbon. This outcome means that Canada will in turn miss its Cancun pledge to reduce carbon emission levels by 17 per cent of 2005 levels by 2020. Much of Canada’s difficulties in reducing emissions can be attributed to the oil and gas industry, as well as the transportation industry.
The World Meteorological Association also recently released a report stating that global greenhouse gas levels have jumped to record levels since 2015, from 400 parts per million (PPM) to 403 PPM.
While Canada has introduced the Pan-Canadian framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Canadians still haven’t seen real change within the most polluting sectors. The UN Emissions Gap Report calls for Canada, as well as other countries like Mexico, the United States, and the European Union, to quell their emissions. Specifically, the acclaimed European Union Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) is being called on to be more stringent with its emissions reduction targets. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that the Paris Agreement goal of restricting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius will be achieved.
Catherine McKenna, Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, announced a National Carbon Pricing Plan last year. The implemented tax will rise to 50 dollars per tonne of CO2 by 2022, which will in turn lead to a price hike of up to 11 cents per litre at the pump for certain provinces. Manitoba has already signaled that the 50-dollar carbon tax is too high, and that the province would prefer a maximum of 25 dollars by 2022.
Coming into effect in 2018, the National Carbon Pricing Plan also offers a cap and trade system, much like the EU-ETS, for provinces that wish to take a more flexible route. However, the cap and trade system has been highly criticized in Europe as ineffective, and leading to a rise in carbon emissions in certain sectors.
This week’s conference in Bonn, Germany will hopefully lead to policy reform in countries—including Canada—that appear to be shirking their duties under the Paris Agreement. It is time for Canada to show the rest of the world that it is willing and able to be a leader in addressing climate change. Soon enough, we won’t have the luxury of arguing over the semantics of climate change, but will stand face-to-face with its full effects if we continue failing to act.