Kyoto Report Card 2004
Full Report (pdf, 3.4 MB)
Can you name one piece of legislation that the federal government has passed to meet Kyoto since ratifying in 2002? No? Neither can Sierra Club Canada. And two years after Canada ratified Kyoto, this explains why Canada has made little progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
To its credit, the federal government is implementing its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as laid out in Action Plan 2000 and the Climate Change Plan for Canada 2002. Government departments have been working diligently to set up the demonstration projects and awareness campaigns set out in the governments Kyoto plan. The government has also been going through the motions of trying to negotiate voluntary reductions with industry, such as carmakers.
So why then are senior government officials, such as the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, George Anderson, admitting publicly that Canada wont make it to Kyoto?
The answer lies in what was omitted from the plan laws and regulations. The current plan lays out a series of voluntary agreements with industry, demonstration projects and public awareness campaigns, which the government says will spur deep cuts in Canadas greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. Put simply, the governments Kyoto strategy is founded on the belief that moral suasion and example can lower Canadas greenhouse emissions to 6% below 1990 levels.
We live in a strange world when we must remind the federal government what governments are mandated to do make laws and regulations.
Earlier this year the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development voiced its concern regarding the lack of regulation in Canadas Kyoto plan in its Environmental Performance Review, stating that
voluntary approaches should be supplemented by more conventional use of regulations. Yes, we live in a strange world when we must remind the federal government what governments are mandated to do make laws and regulations.
The federal governments failure to negotiate a voluntary agreement with carmakers to produce cleaner cars, as laid out in Action Plan 2000, demonstrates that any voluntary approach to implementing Kyoto is a dead end. After two years of secret negotiations, carmakers have stubbornly refused to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their vehicles. Despite this, the government continues to issue naïve statements that it is optimistic that it will reach an agreement.
The government has also failed to introduce legislation for the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the federal plan Large Industrial Emitters. It is understood that the legislation is ready, but buried in the bowels of Natural Resources Canada.
The provinces, having jurisdiction over building standards, also have a role to play. So far, no province has agreed to increase the efficiency standards for new homes and buildings built in Canada. In the era of Kyoto, this is unacceptable.
In 2005, the Martin government must fill the legislative loophole in the Kyoto plan developed under Jean Chrétien. Kyoto becomes international law in 2005 and well need domestic laws to meet Kyoto in 2010.
Here are some items that should be on the top of the governments wish list in 2005:
- The government must introduce and pass Large Final Emitters legislation in the first three months of 2005.
- End the negotiations with carmakers and introduce regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles compatible with the regulations introduced in California and other Northeastern states.
- Win an agreement out of the provinces to enact leading edge efficiency standards for new homes and buildings across Canada.
- At this late date, we must acknowledge that meeting targets will require the use of international mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol to meet our targets. Canada needs to develop clear criteria for how our offshore carbon actions can embrace Canadian values.
To build momentum towards 2010, Canada should declare a long-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2010.