Kyoto Report Card 2003

Executive Summary
December 17th, 2003

Full report in PDF format (1.2 MB)

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Kyoto Report Card 2003 – Year 1

One year after ratifying the Kyoto Protocol the question is still asked: “Can Canada meet its Kyoto commitments?” The answer is resoundingly, “YES.” Countries with Kyoto commitments more stringent than Canada’s are on their way to Kyoto, implementing long-term plans to shift their economies to an energy efficient and low carbon future. Canada CAN do the same.

The appropriate question to ask is not ““Can Canada meet its Kyoto commitments?” but “Will the current plan get us there?” The answer to that, is a hesitant “maybe.” On November 22nd 2002, the Chrétien government published its ‘Three Step Plan” to Kyoto, setting out a series of vague initiatives that would reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 240 Mt. 

There is much about the current plan that can work, but the plan is hindered by a lack of long-term vision. Cobbled together during last Fall’s Kyoto debate, the Chrétien plan might get us to the end of this Kyoto period, but no further. Any approach that squeaks to the finish line in 2010, failing to create momentum to the next round of reductions, is a failure even if it meets Kyoto Targets.

Meanwhile, other countries have got the ‘big picture’ and are taking advantage of making Kyoto work for them. As part of its long-term economic planning, the United Kingdom committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050. Germany has committed to a 40% reduction.

A long-term approach is consistent with Prime Minister Paul Martin’s stated approach. On September 18, Martin said: “It is also clear that, no matter what happens in the first phase, the world cannot meet the objectives of Kyoto’s second phase without a technological revolution.“

To make our targets in 2010, the Paul Martin government in 2004 should declare a long-term goal to reduce Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.

The Martin government must move to develop its own plan ASAP. It need not abandon every element of the current plan. In fact, as this report card suggests, many elements of the current plan could well be expanded and strengthened. 

A few “Quick Start” decisions from the Martin Government in the New Year will pay real dividends in later years.

Here are some items that should be at the top the Prime Minister’s Kyoto TO DO list:
  • Make the promised closure the Ontario coal-fired plants part of the business-as-usual assessment and work with the McGuinty to ensure the electrical needs of Ontarians are met with environmental integrity and environmental sustainability. The closure of all of Ontario’s coal plants could reduce emissions by 38 megatonnes. Work with other provinces to phase out coal.

  • Increase and expand energy efficiency initiatives and retrofit programs to all sectors, fundamentally recognising the role of regulation. (Building codes, appliance standards)

  • Make the promise to of improving the fuel efficiency of automobiles real by proclaiming the Motor Vehicles Fuel Consumption Act of 1981 regulating an increased fuel efficiency standard for Canadian vehicles.

  • Recognise the emissions savings from the deployment of co-generation (combined heat and energy) in the business-as-usual plan and establish a programs to assist industry to take advantage of this technology.

  • Fundamentally rethink (or dump) the current Large Industrial Emitters plan and develop a comprehensive carbon trading scheme, with upstream caps, that applies to all sectors.

  • Recognise the significance of urban transportation planning in reducing emissions, and enjoy join all other OECD countries and invest in urban transit.

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