Canada’s climate change record


in Canada, Economics, Politics, The environment

I have rarely seen such a concise and numerically-backed summary of Canada’s climate change policy outcomes than this one from Steve Easterbrook’s blog in 2016:

Several things jump out at me from this chart. First, the complete failure to implement policies that would have allowed us to meet any of these targets. The dip in emissions from 2008-2010, which looked promising for a while, was due to the financial crisis and economic downturn, rather than any actual climate policy. Second, the similar slope of the line to each target, which represents the expected rate of decline from when the target was proposed to when it ought to be attained. At no point has there been any attempt to make up lost ground after each failed target. Finally, in terms of absolute greenhouse gas emissions, each target is worse than the previous ones. Shifting the baseline from 1990 to 2005 masks much of this, and shows that successive governments are more interested in optics than serious action on climate change.

At no point has Canada ever adopted science-based targets capable of delivering on its commitment to keep warming below 2°C.

In my July 2021 letter to Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson I defined the term “gapology” as: “the process going back to the Chrétien era of setting a GHG reduction target for political reasons and then performing economic analyses to compare potential mitigation measures and the GHG reductions expected to accompany them against the political target, always finding a gap in which some further action would be required.”

Trudeau’s net zero promise is an extension and reiteration of the gapology strategy: safely pushing accountability for meeting the target to long beyond his own time in office.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

. February 11, 2022 at 3:15 pm

Today, Canadian governments face two major policy challenges: 1) the need to close the substantial gap between projected emissions reductions resulting from existing policy implementation and the national target of 17% below 2005 emissions levels by 2020; and 2) the need to establish a post-2020 mitigation target by 2015, arising from Canadian participation in the 2011 Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

Macdonald, Douglas. Allocating Canadian Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions Amongst Sources and Provinces: Learning from Germany and the EU. 2013. url: 1807/77153/1/AllocatingGHGReductions2013.pdf

. December 31, 2022 at 1:23 pm

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