It's time for the federal Government to walk the talk
"Commitments are only as strong as our will to fulfil them."
On the back page of the summary:
Yet, in A Record of Achievement (page 63), the Liberals acknowledge that their commitments on climate change have not been met.
"The federal government has developed the Voluntary Challenge and Registry, introduced in February 1995, to encourage voluntary greenhouse gas reductions in the public and private sectors. Over 500 private companies have registered to date, covering 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions originating from industrial and business activity. They account for 80 per cent of emissions from the petroleum sector, and 95 per cent of emissions from chemical production.
"In addition to the energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives listed above, the government has funded the 20 Per Cent Club, a network of municipalities committed to the 20 per cent reduction target.
"However, despite these efforts, without further initiatives, the latest available forecast is that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions will remain at 13 per cent above 1990 levels in 2000."
"BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Liberal Party of Canada reaffirm its commitment to meet the Red Book target of a 20 per cent reduction below 1988 levels by the year 2005, beginning with the fulfilment of the government's international commitment to stabilize CO2 emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000;
"BE IT RESOLVED that further CO2 reductions may be necessary beyond the year 2005 if the impacts of climate change on the Canadian environment and Canadian resources, such as the Boreal forest, are to be minimized;
"BE IT RESOLVED that the gravity of the situation requires the federal government to immediately develop a comprehensive action plan, based on prudent assumptions, to ensure CO2 emissions are stabilized at 1990 levels by the year 2000;
"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada urges the federal government to act to realize the job creation benefits and C02 reductions derived from investment in energy efficiency."
National Liberal Caucus
Greenhouse gas emissions - what's happening?
The Gap - slight of hand
Projections of greenhouse gas emissions are developed by Natural Resources Canada (energy related emissions) and Environment Canada (non-energy emissions).
Until recently, projections were that greenhouse gas emissions in Canada would be 13 per cent above 1990 levels by the year 2000. The most recent projection projects that Canada will be 8 per cent above 1990 levels by the year 2000.
Projections are based on assumptions regarding economic and population growth, fuel mix and the impact of actions such a energy efficiency regulations. The most current projection should not be interpreted to mean that Canada's Voluntary Challenge and Registry Program is working, therefore Canada need do no more. In fact, the opposite interpretation would be wise. The latest projection squeezes the most it possibly can from assuming that the upstream oil and gas sector (the most heavily represented in the VCR) fully implements actions to capture leaking methane.
The Base Case
Assumes "without programs". Population growth: 12 per cent by 2000; 22 per cent by 2010. Real per capita GDP: up 20 per cent by 2000; 48 per cent by 2010; 83 per cent by 2020.
By the year 2000, emissions in this forecast are 14 per cent above their 1990 level, representing a gap of some 81 Mt CO2-equivalent relative to the stabilization target. The gap is forecast to continue to grow beyond 2000, with emissions reaching 130 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010 and 150 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020.
By the year 2000, emissions growth in the petroleum sector accounts for 37 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions growth in Canada, heavy industry for 14 per cent and passenger and freight transportation a combined 26 per cent for a total of 77 per cent of the forecast gap in 2000. In contrast, the Residential and Commercial buildings sectors, which contributed 21 per cent of total emissions in 1990, contribute only 11 per cent of the forecast emissions growth over the 1990-2000 period.
Impact of the National Action Program
According to the consultant's report by Resources Futures International (RFI), "Barring a major economic downturn, a sudden large rise in fuel prices, or immediate and aggressive action by senior levels of government, Canada will not achieve its short-term stabilization commitment. Based on Natural Resources Canada's assessment of the effect of NAPCC initiatives, total GHG emissions in 2000 will be on the order of 8 per cent higher than they were in 1990. The exact percentage is sensitive to assumptions about economic growth rates, especially for some key industries, about the rates of energy efficiency improvements, and about the rates of emission reductions, specifically in upstream oil and gas.
According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), member companies have reported in their 1996 submissions to the Voluntary Challenge that actions taken in 1995 (as well as actions planned for post-1995) will reduce upstream methane emissions by approximately 1 Mt. Natural Resources Canada is projecting a 12 Mt reduction in methane emissions by 2000 from thes entire sector. Clearly, the government has put an optimistic spin on the potential contribution of the VCR to closing Canada's stabilization gap.
Even if all companies move to reduce methane emissions, this is a one-time opportunity that won't generate reductions beyond 2000. In fact, projections for 2010 and 2020 suggest greenhouse gas emissions in Canada could be 12.3 per cent above 1990 levels in 2005, 16.5 per cent above 1990 levels in 2010 and 34 per cent above 1990 levels in 2020.
"Over the longer term, the projections of the Basic Case and the Reference Case become more uncertain and more sensitive to assumptions about progress in energy efficiency, energy prices, and rates and composition of economic growth. based on the projections and the modest reductions in emissions forecast for each of the sectors, it is highly unlikely that Canada's GHG emissions will stabilize in the years following 2000. With NAPCC programs, Canadian GHG emissions in 2020 are predicted to be 34 per cent higher than in 1990, and increasing. Natural Resources Canada projects increases in emissions from all sectors by 2020 with the exception of the residential sector where a 38 per cent reduction in energy use per household more than offsets the increase in number of households (due to higher efficiency standards)."
Source: Reviewing the progress made under Canada's National Action Program on Climate Change, RFI, et al, November 1996.
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December 2, 1996
Don't look to Canada for international leadership on climate change
In July, Ministers came together at the Second Conference of the Parties and found enough common ground to negotiate a ministerial declaration that included:
Despite acknowledging that climate change is happening in Canada (a 1.8 million sq. km. watershed called the Mackenzie Basin in northwest Canada has warmed at three times the global rate over the last 100 years with record forest fires, low lake levels and melting permafrost), Minister Marchi does not have federal Cabinet or provincial backing to fight the onslaught from Alberta and the fossil fuel sector against new commitments for Canada.
In fact, Alberta and the fossil fuel sector (led by Imperial Oil) is arguing that Canada should not sign on to a protocol that includes a legally binding emissions reduction target. Imperial Oil also is arguing that Canada's negotiating delegation should no longer be headed by Environment Canada. Rather, the industrial lobby wants trade representatives to lead Canada's team on this environmental issue.
As a result, until the public weighs in calling for action to protect our health and environment, Canada will argue that it should do less, rather than more, to protect the climate. This strategy is doomed to failure.
1.The Canadian Government will say Canada is a big, cold, natural resource-based, energy intensive country, and our national circumstances should entitle us to lower emission reduction targets than other countries. Canada is dreaming if it thinks international politics will stand for this. As the second largest emitter on a per capita basis, the more likely reality is that Canada will increasingly come under pressure to put BIGGER reductions on the table than other countries.
2.The Canadian Government will seek maximum flexibility which means joint implementation (reductions in other countries but credits against home emissions) and possibly some sort of global trading program. Such a position could mean very low (or even just continued stabilization) targets for every country within Annex 1 with some trading up to some modest higher level.