Can Canada meet the Conservative GHG targets?

Small red apples

The Globe and Mail is full of coverage of a ‘landmark’ new report, considering whether and how Canada could meet the stated greenhouse gas reductions of the current government (20% below 2006 levels by 2020, 60-70% below by 2050). The report was paid for by the Toronto Dominion Bank and compiled by the Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation. Economic modelling was done by M.K. Jaccard and Associates Inc, Canada’s ubiquitous non-governmental providers of projections on climate plans.

The report includes estimates of what the GDP cost of meeting the government’s targets would be, for each province. Overall, the cost is estimated at 1.5% of GDP in 2020. Alberta would be the most affected, with an economy 8.5% smaller than it would be in a scenario with new restrictions on emissions. Saskatchewan is projected at -2.8% and B.C at -2.5%. Ontario would actually be 0.9% richer with regulation, while Quebec would be 0.3% poorer. Given the risks associated with climate change, such an investment seems appropriate. That is especially true when you recognize that we will inevitably have to abandon fossil fuels anyhow.

Of course, much depends on the precise methodology used to compile the report. It isn’t clear how the government’s Regulatory Framework would actually operate in practice – for instance, which compliance options firms would choose to employ, and how much of an effect that would have. The plan also assumes that carbon capture and storage (CCS) will rapidly emerge as an effective and affordable technology, though it isn’t quite as dependent on that outcome as Alberta’s even more worrisome climate plan. In an editorial by Jeffrey Simpson, he claims that:

The government must know its policies will fail. But if the Conservatives expect people can be fooled or will tune out because they don’t care or the issue’s too complicated, why not?

Another editorial argues that the targets were set without a plan for achieving them established. Very disappointingly, it then goes on to argue that since meeting Canada’s targets would involve “unacceptable damage to Canada’s economy and national unity,” the targets should be further loosened. What this ignores is the critical issue of dealing with climate change. If Canada and the world fail to adopt effective mitigation policies, the alternative isn’t going to be unity and prosperity amidst ever-higher greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures. The future of Canadian and global prosperity depends on maintaining a climate that is compatible with human prosperity. Furthermore, it seems absurd to say that growth of 8.5% below business-as-usual is a terrifically awful thing to inflict on Alberta. That’s the kind of impact that might arise as the result of some modest global economic blip or disruption in fossil fuel markets. Only in this case, the cost would be borne in order to help Canada make a credible start on the critical path to a low-carbon economy.

The ethics of letting Alberta and the oil sands off the hook are also highly dubious. People don’t have the fundamental right to keep doing what they have been, even when it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that their actions are harming others. Aside from those suffering now from the air and water pollution associated with rampant oil sands development, there is the key issue of the defenceless and innocent members of future generations who will suffer as the result of these emissions. Indeed, extracting and burning just 10% of the oil sands resource would release 15 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, a quantity sufficient to have a significant temperature effect in and of itself. In addition, continued failure to act on the part of Canada makes it less likely that a strong international agreement will emerge. Given the importance of reaching such an agreement soon, and setting the world on the path to decarbonization, more foot-dragging from Canada is shameful and inappropriate.

Among others, I have long argued that the targets lacked a credible plan for implementation. The government seems to be banking on the fact that they won’t be around in 2020 or 2050 to be held to account. As such, nearer term targets – such as those in the 10:10 campaign – could be usefully adopted in Canada. Anything else leaves too much of a gap between promises and mechanisms of accountability.

The full report is available online (PDF).

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

36 thoughts on “Can Canada meet the Conservative GHG targets?”

  1. From the executive summary of the report:

    The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation therefore commissioned the leading economic modelling firm M.K. Jaccard and Associates Inc. to conduct an in-depth study of federal and provincial government policies to allow Canada to meet a “2°C target” to reduce GHG emissions to 25 per cent below the 1990 level by 2020, based on the science outlined above, as well as the federal government’s current target.

    The analysis shows that with strong federal and provincial government policies, Canada can meet the 2°C emissions target in 2020 and still have a strong growing economy, a quality of life higher than Canadians enjoy today, and continued steady job creation across the country. The analysis also shows that the federal government needs to implement far stronger policies than it has proposed to date to meet its current GHG target.

    Meeting either target requires governments to put a significant price on GHG emissions (a “carbon price”) broadly across the economy, and to back it up with strong complementary regulations and public investments. In this analysis, to meet the 2°C target, a carbon price starting at $50 per tonne2 in 2010 needs to rise to $200 per tonne by 2020. To meet the government’s target, a carbon price starting at $40 per tonne in 2011 needs to rise to $100 per tonne by 2020.

    Canada’s GDP is projected to grow 23 per cent between 2010 and 2020, or an average of 2.1 per cent annually, while meeting the 2°C emissions target. By comparison, under business as usual conditions, Canada’s GDP is projected to grow 27 per cent between 2010 and 2020, or an average of 2.4 per cent annually, with GHG emissions in 2020 rising to 47 per cent above the 1990 level. GDP growth rates vary significantly among regions, as is the case under business as usual. The urgent need to address the enormous GHG emissions from the coal-fired electricity and petroleum sectors in Alberta and Saskatchewan accounts for reductions in the projected rates of growth in these provinces. Under the government’s target, Canada’s GDP is projected to grow 25 per cent between 2010 and 2020, or an average of 2.2 per cent annually.

    It is really astonishing how wrong the ‘unacceptable damage to Canada’s economy’ editorial gets things. As the executive summary goes on to point out:

    It is important to note that business as usual involves extraordinary costs. In his 2006 review of the economics of climate change, former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern estimated that the “costs and risks” of uncontrolled climate change are equivalent to a loss in global GDP of at least 5 per cent and up to 20 per cent or more, “now and forever.”

    And yet, even Canada’s more sensible national newspaper is recoiling in horror at the prospect of somewhat slower growth in the Alberta economy.

  2. As it is, Canada is held together with a patchwork of ‘equalization’ payments.

    If buying off Alberta is the only way to get a sane federal climate policy, perhaps that is what we should do.

  3. Equalization is, of course, an important political issue here.

    One reason why allowing unconstrained growth in Alberta is appealing to the federal government is that it provides more funds to buy peace with the other provinces.

    What both politicians and the public need to realize is that climate change is an important enough issue to warrant changes in old patterns of behaviour. The moral case for reigning in emissions nation-wide is very strong. What needs to be developed now are political mechanisms for making it possible. In this, thinking like that in the Globe editorial is not helpful.

  4. Getting rid of provinces doesn’t seem a horrid idea. It would give more power to cities, which arguably are in need of it.

  5. The same could be said of getting rid of most of the states in Africa, but it just ain’t gonna happen.

  6. In any case, there is actually a fair bit of academic work that has been done on states with oil producing regions. The struggle for control over the resource (which normally means control over revenues) pits different levels of government against one another. In some ways, the struggle to impose restrictions on emissions is likely to be similar.

    Nigeria is an example of a state in this predicament, as is Iraq when it comes to Kirkuk.

  7. Some academic examples:

    Ross, Michael L. “Oil, Drugs, and Diamonds: The Varying Roles of Natural Resources in Civil War.” In The Political Economy of Armed Conflict: Beyond Greed and Grievance. Eds. Karen Ballentine and Jake Sherman. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003. Chapter 3.

    LeBillon, Philippe and Eric Nicholls. “Ending ‘Resource Wars’: Revenue Sharing, Economic Sanction, or Military Intervention?” International Peacekeeping. 2007, Vol. 14 (5), pp. 613-632

    Natural resources and conflict in Africa: the tragedy of endowment
    By Abiodun Alao

    Oil and the Political Economy of Conflict in Colombia and Beyond: A Linkages Approach

    While armed conflict is unlikely between Canada and Alberta, there is probably some value in examining other cases where different levels of government compete for control over resources that are distributed in a non-homogeneous way.

  8. The Devil’s Excrement
    Can oil-rich countries avoid the resource curse?
    BY MOISÉS NAÍM | SEPT. / OCT. 2009

    Oil is a curse. Natural gas, copper, and diamonds are also bad for a country’s health. Hence, an insight that is as powerful as it is counterintuitive: Poor but resource-rich countries tend to be underdeveloped not despite their hydrocarbon and mineral riches but because of their resource wealth. One way or another, oil — or gold or zinc — makes you poor. This fact is hard to believe, and exceptions such as Norway and the United States are often used to argue that oil and prosperity can indeed go together.

  9. So the villain of the piece is neither oilman nor despot but oil itself. The stuff oozes out of Mr Maass’s portraits of countries afflicted, never blessed, with the presence of oil. It fills the streams in Ecuador where Chevron, an oil concessionaire, is accused of dumping its wastewater during a long period of drilling. Natural gas flares give the sky a hellish glow in Mr Maass’s dispatch from Nigeria, in which he canoes around with the “king” of a band of Niger Delta locals fighting Shell, the biggest oil company in the region.

    The recurring tragedy of oil is that it produces wealth but not what is needed most in poor countries: jobs. Once wells or refineries are built, they take few men to run them. So the money just pours out of the ground, much of it hauled off by foreign companies, and the rest sucked up by greedy regimes. Equatorial Guinea’s tiny population and recent oil discovery should make it one of the richer countries in the world. Its capital, Malabo, has a direct flight to Houston. Yet most of its people remain miserably poor while its cartoonish and bloodthirsty ruler gives himself a presidential Boeing 737 with gold-plated bathroom fixtures.

  10. May 12, 2006
    Oil Rush Sows the Seeds of Conflict for Decades to Come

    Published in Calgary Herald (May 12, 2006)
    By: Simon Dyer, Director, Oil Sands, Pembina Institute

    In a nonsensical cart-before-the horse fashion, Alberta sells development rights and then tries to set rules about the appropriate levels of development.

    Alberta clings to an archaic oil and gas tenure model that hasn’t changed much since the 1950s. Incorporating other values into the tenure process is not complex. In the Muskwa-Kechika area of British Columbia, the Government of British Columbia uses pre-tenure planning to identify environmental objectives before land is leased for oil and gas development.

    This is the equivalent of having blueprints before we build the house of Alberta.

    Alberta’s oil and gas tenure system can easily be brought up to date by incorporating a few key principles: plan for the landscape that you want 50 years from now, ensure the public has input into tenure decisions, involve the public in regional planning and, in the long run, save money on costly battles over surface access rights on a well-by-well basis.

  11. “But if 20 per cent remains the target, then necessary measures would take a mere 0.16 per cent off economic growth yearly from 2010 to 2020.

    Put another way, there would be a small overall national economic cost, and significant interregional economic flows from fossil-fuel-producing Alberta and Saskatchewan to other parts of Canada. But, even after those interregional flows, Alberta would still experience the country’s strongest economic growth, and Canada’s overall economic growth would remain strong. (The cost of doing nothing is considerable, of course, in the long term for Alberta, Canada and the world.)”

    Is this really not something Canada’s federation can handle?

  12. Comment: Carbon report’s bloody portent
    Kevin Libin, National Post
    Published: Friday, October 30, 2009

    For it leaves no doubt: in meeting the government’s plan to cut greenhouse gases by 20% from 2006 levels in the next decade, there will be blood.

    It portends, TD’s chief economist told reporters, “the biggest fiscal shock in Canadian history.” The study shows “it can be done,” as long as we’re prepared for hard-line restrictions, including steep carbon taxes and the banning of any new buildings, homes, appliances and vehicles not meeting strict environmental standards.

    And since that won’t quite get us to either Ottawa’s goal, or the taller ambition of environmental groups that we cut emissions about 40% from today by 2020, Canada must also purchase loads of carbon permits from developing countries to make up our shortfall.

    The bulk of the brutality will be felt, unsurprisingly, in one part of the country — that which had, in pre-recessionary days, proved the powerful piston in Canada’s engine: the West.

    Going green won’t stall Alta.: report
    Last Updated: 30th October 2009, 3:15am

    Meeting Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s climate change goals will slow, but not stall, Alberta’s economy with rapidly rising carbon emission costs, says a new report.

    The province’s GDP would be 8.5% smaller than a business-as-usual approach would bring, based on the report produced by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki foundation, funded by the TD Bank.

    Their models suggest the price of carbon emissions has to rise dramatically to meet 2020 emission reduction targets.

    The report suggests charging companies $40 per tonne of carbon produced in 2010 and raising that to $100 per tonne by 2020.

    Alberta companies currently pay $15 per tonne.

    Climate change report ‘irresponsible,’ Prentice says

    A landmark report on the economic impact of meeting climate-change targets has run into a storm of opposition, with Western provinces calling it divisive and the federal government saying it would spell economic disaster.

    “We would be extremely opposed to any kind of a carbon tax or some other kind of tax that would result in a significant wealth transfer from our province to any other province or area of the country,” said Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd.

    Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice said there is no way Western Canadians could absorb the deep economic hit projected by the report’s environmentalist authors – the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute.

    He said their assumptions are way off: The long-term economic conditions they forecast will be avoided by working with the Americans on a continental climate-change plan.

    “The conclusions [the report] draws are irresponsible,” said Mr. Prentice in an interview with The Globe and Mail from Kingston, where he was meeting with provincial and territorial environment ministers. Specifically, he said Canadians will not accept the report’s advocacy of emission targets for 2020 that would reduce Canada’s gross domestic product by 3 per cent nationally and 12 per cent in Alberta from business-as-usual estimates.

  13. “Mr. Prentice insisted Thursday that Canada’s target can be achieved by harmonizing with U.S. proposals that are currently estimated to be about $28 per tonne.

    “The kind of economic consequences you see in this report are not necessary if this is done in an orderly way,” he said, noting the costs must be acceptable in all regions. Mr. Prentice also said Canada will not cap emissions alone and that he expects the U.S. Senate will not approve new climate rules until next year.

  14. The costs are perilous? It’s as though they didn’t even read the executive summary of the report:

    “Canada’s GDP is projected to grow 23 per cent between 2010 and 2020, or an average of 2.1 per cent annually, while meeting the 2°C emissions target. By comparison, under business as usual conditions, Canada’s GDP is projected to grow 27 per cent between 2010 and 2020, or an average of 2.4 per cent annually, with GHG emissions in 2020 rising to 47 per cent above the 1990 level. GDP growth rates vary significantly among regions, as is the case under business as usual. The urgent need to address the enormous GHG emissions from the coal-fired electricity and petroleum sec- tors in Alberta and Saskatchewan accounts for reductions in the projected rates of growth in these provinces. Under the government’s target, Canada’s GDP is projected to grow 25 per cent between 2010 and 2020, or an average of 2.2 per cent annually.”

  15. This “editorial” made front page today. My favourite part:the premiers of Sask and AB quoted saying the exact same thing, word for word, about “redistribution of wealth.” Carbon tax – it’s basically communism!

  16. British High Commissioner Drops Diplomatic Gloves
    By Tzeporah Berman on General

    “extraordinarily timid and unimaginative,” is what British High Commissioner Anthony Cary calls the response to yesterday’s report by Pembina and DSF. The report kicked up quite a stink from the Premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan and Environment Minister Prentice.

    But the British High Commissioner has to pick his targets carefully and specifically responded to the Globe and Mail’s editorial which called GHG reductions “unsaleable and dangerous”

  17. Denying Canada’s environmental truths
    Ottawa has offered a false choice between economic growth and environmental progress

    Ready or not, we think Canada needs to have an adult conversation about tackling climate change.

    That’s why we worked with the David Suzuki Foundation to produce a detailed report on the government policies needed to cut Canada’s emissions. We hired a leading economic analysis firm – one that the federal and Alberta governments have used – to model what it means for Canada’s economy.

    On balance, the results are good. We found that Canada can meet an ambitious target to cut its greenhouse-gas pollution while continuing to enjoy solid economic growth. By 2020, Canada’s GDP would be 23 per cent larger than in 2010, and we would create nearly 2 million net new jobs.

    But there are some nuances. Canada’s economic growth happens a bit more slowly than it would if we did nothing to tackle climate change. Instead of growing at 2.4 per cent each year, the economy would grow at 2.1 per cent annually if Canada met an ambitious, science-based emission reduction target.

    The need to tackle high emissions from the oil sands and coal-fired electricity means that Alberta’s feverish rates of expansion would cool. Even so, Alberta would continue to lead the nation in economic growth, increasing its GDP by 38 per cent by 2020 while creating more than 130,000 net new jobs.

    So tackling climate change won’t be free, but it’s certainly affordable. Our study also found that delay increases the costs of action. And although we didn’t factor in the costs of global warming itself, international analyses consistently shows that the damage from unchecked climate change costs far more than addressing the problem.

  18. Environment Minister Jim Prentice says Canada intends to reduce emissions 17 per cent by 2020, based on 2005 levels.

    “Canada has registered a target today with the United Nations that is in keeping with our obligation under the Copenhagen Accord and that is aligned with the Obama administration,” said Prentice.

    17 per cent is the same target that the U.S. formally committed to last week.

    The European Union has committed to a 20 per cent reduction based on 1990 levels.”

  19. First, Canada quietly abandoned its target to stop the growth in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.

    Now, they have replaced their much-repeated “20% below 2006 levels by 2020, 60-70% below by 2050” targets with “17% below 2005 levels by 2020.”

    Of course, there is still no plan that is actually implemented, or even on the cusp of implementation.

  20. Is 20% below 2006 levels any different than 17% below 2005 levels? Presumably 2006 levels were higher?

  21. From our National Inventory Report: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada:

    2005 emissions: 734 Mt
    2006 emissions: 721 Mt

    (2005 x 0.83) = 609 Mt
    (2006 x 0.8) = 577 Mt

    Based on the latest released numbers, the new target is about 32 Mt less ambitious than the old one. By comparison, emissions grew by about 126 Mt between 1990 and 2000.

    My primary worries are that changing targets sends a bad message to industry: both that our targets might be changed arbitrarily in the future, and that they might be able to lobby government to weaken them. I also worry about the absence of a 2050 target and, of course, about the lack of a real implementation plan.


    2007 Canadian emissions data

    New Canadian emission data

  22. Without a plan for achieving them, targets are just a distraction.

    The target that counts is cutting emissions to zero before they kick off amplifying feedbacks and runaway climate change. We know from the paleoclimatic record that there have been rapid destabilizations of ice sheets in the past. During the Eemian era, 140,000 years ago, sea levels rose by 1 metre every 20 years for centuries. Such an outcome would be devastating for humanity – especially compared with the costs of the low- and zero-carbon energy transitions.

  23. Environment Minister Peter Kent is rejecting the key recommendations of a federal advisory body on how best to meet Canada’s climate-change targets.

    The National Round Table on the Environment and Economy says Canada won’t even come close to meeting its climate-change targets if it waits for the United States to act.

    So the body of advisers — handpicked by the Conservative government — says Ottawa should embark on a cautious path of its own, and set up a cap-and-trade market that would put a price on carbon, encouraging emitters to cut back.

    “At this point, it’s absolutely a no-go,” Kent said in an interview.

    He says Ottawa has already put in place regulations that will cut emissions, and there are more in the works.

    “We’ve made a decision to proceed on the basis of continental realities, with regulation. We know that will work,” Kent said. “We’re moving forward sector by sector to achieve those targets.”

    The roundtable says it doesn’t see anything wrong with Ottawa’s approach of harmonizing Canada’s emission-reductions targets with American goals.

    But to simply mimic U.S. measures — especially when ideas for policy change are paralyzed by American politics — will do Canada’s economy and environment more harm than good, the roundtable says in a policy analysis released Tuesday.

    President Barack Obama has said he does not expect any major climate-change legislation to pass in the next two years.

    “Canada faces some economic competitiveness risks in moving too far ahead of the U.S., but also faces both environmental and economic risks by simply waiting,” the panel says in a 160-page report.

  24. 4 February 11
    Kent Insists – Against the Evidence – that Canada has a Plan

    Environment Minister Even Calls that Plan “Credible”

    Postmedia reporter Mike De Souza has an amusing story about outrage in the office of Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent over coverage of a ministerial speech last week.

    The Minister had told the Economic Club of Canada that “Canada has a credible plan for addressing our environmental challenges.” At the same time, his department was releasing a document with the graph at left, showing a vast gap between the government’s stated emission reduction targets and the continuing rise of those emissions.

    De Souza gives the Minister’s office every chance to comment, clarify or correct his report. But at the end of the day, it sure looks like Canada’s plan is to blow off its commitments once again – woefully, just as everyone expected.

  25. There’s a hole in the Conservative platform…a hole so big, you could fit Canada’s oil and gas sector or every single one of our fossil-fuel power plants into it. The hole is projected to get bigger, and will be large enough to fit every single car, truck, SUV, train, bus, and ATV in Canada into it by 2020. These are not figures from David Suzuki. They are taken from speeches by Conservative Environment Minister Peter Kent and reports provided by Environment Canada earlier this year.

    The Conservatives do not have the policies in place to meet commitments in their platform. The platform re-iterates Canada’s Copenhagen commitment to reduce GHG emissions from current levels of around 730 million tons (Mt) to 607 Mt, or 17 per cent below our 2005 levels, by 2020. Mr. Kent called the target “ambitious,” and he was not kidding. To get there, even if you ignored the potential for economic growth, it would take the equivalent of shutting down every single coal- and natural-gas-fired power plant in the country.

    The story gets worse when you consider the economic growth we expect to see over the next eight years. In his first speech as Environment Minister, Peter Kent admitted that, “there is a great deal to do,” since without any new policies, Canada’s emissions will likely grow to around 800 Mt per year, and we would miss the Conservatives’ pledge by 178 Mt, as you can see in the graph below from Environment Canada. To put that into perspective, you could eliminate the emissions from every single car and truck on the road today, and we would still not get there.

  26. Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Target and Emissions Projections

    These existing measures are expected to reduce GHG emissions by 65 Mt by 2020 relative to the scenario with no government actions, reducing annual emissions in 2020 from 850 Mt to 785 Mt.

    Thus, currently announced government measures will generate about one quarter of the reductions in emissions by 2020 that are needed to reach Canada’s Copenhagen accord target of 607 Mt.

  27. Emissions: Peter Kent’s 178 millon-ton challenge
    Globe and Mail Blog
    Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2011 7:31AM EDT

    It may be his most important task, and setting Canada’s GHG policy course for the next four years will not be an easy one for Environment Minister Peter Kent. By his own admission, meeting Canada’s GHG goals will be a daunting challenge and will require stringent regulations on oil and gas, electricity generation, transportation, and other industrial sectors.

    Canada has committed to very aggressive GHG emissions targets, given the level of effort which will be required to meet them. We have committed to reducing GHG emissions from current levels of around 730 million tons per year (Mt/yr) to 607 Mt/yr, or 17 per cent below our 2005 levels, by 2020. Economic modeling tells us that to get there we would have to undertake every in-the-money emissions reduction opportunities we have available as well as all opportunities which cost up to $100/ton.

    After all the actions taken to date by provincial and federal governments are combined, a 178 Mt/yr gap remains between our emissions trajectory and our 2020 target, according to Environment Canada reports. Mr. Kent needs new regulations which amount to the equivalent of taking every vehicle currently in use in Canada off the road — permanently.

  28. According to a midsummer report from Environment Canada, even with the measures that the federal and provincial governments have already announced, 2020 emissions will rise to 785 million tonnes. So instead of going down, emissions will rise by 54 million tonnes, or about 8 per cent.

    True, had governments done nothing, emissions would have risen to 850 million tonnes. So their actions have meant a drop of 65 million tonnes against a business-as-usual case. But that still means that, from now until 2020, the governments have to get rid of that 8-per-cent increase and achieve that 17-per-cent reduction, a cut of 178 million tonnes.

  29. Canada can meet 2020 emissions target, report says
    Carbon-pricing program might still be needed, researchers say

    The Conservative government is on the right track with its approach to greenhouse gas reductions, but it needs an extra push to reach its 2020 targets, a group of independent researchers says.

    The report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, released Monday, examined Ottawa’s approach of gradually introducing emissions regulations one industry at a time.

    The IISD report noted that for political reasons, the possibility of bringing in a federal carbon tax or national cap-and-trade system has been pushed off the table. The federal government has insisted on linking its climate change policy with that of the United States for competitive reasons.

    According to the report, Ottawa has spent billions on climate change programs for decades, such as building retrofits and carbon capture-and-storage demonstration projects, that have had limited success in reducing emissions.

    Nevertheless, the IISD researchers found that when coupled with what the provinces are doing, Canada is about halfway to its international target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 17 per cent below 2005 levels.

  30. Models show that in order to curb tar sands pollution and meet Canada’s shared 2020 climate goal with the United States, regulations on the tar sands would have to establish a price on carbon of at least $100 per tonne. But any meaningful regulation is highly unlikely, said Canadian experts.

    “It will be very difficult for the Canadian government to achieve its own emissions reduction target for 2020 even without tar sands expansion, and more so if it continues to pursue tar sands expansion,” Dr. Danny Harvey, a climate scientist at University of Toronto, told reporters.

    “In any case, deep reductions in overall emissions, beyond the 2020 target, will be required in the following decades that will be impossible to achieve if we lock in 40 years of increased tar sands emissions by building more pipelines,” said Harvey.

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