Photo by Rebecca Wood (Wikimedia Commons)
The leader of the Green Party of Canada, Annamie Paul, believes that Canada’s new climate targets fall short of having a concrete impact on the climate emergency at a time where Canada should be the leader in climate intervention
Where’s the ambition?
Following Justin Trudeau’s announcement on the new greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets for Canada, Annamie Paul was left astounded by the government’s lack of ambition in regards to the new goals and the complacency in lagging behind the Climate goals of other world leaders.
On Earth day, the Liberal Government announced that “Canada will enhance our emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement – known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – by 40-45% below 2005 levels, by 2030. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Canada’s NDC reflects its highest possible ambition in light of its current national circumstances.”
For Annamie Paul, this new target sends a message that “[the government] is not seeking to make Canada a global leader in the fight against the climate emergency, nor in building the competitive economy of the future.”
The new target is a substantial increase from Canada’s previous GHG reduction target, which was announced in 2016 when Canada published its first climate action plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. At that time, the target was set to reduce GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Rising the target to 40-45% may seem like an ambitious increase at first, but Paul contrasts Canada’s new goal to its international partners’ Climate plans: “The European Union adopted a Climate Law to cut its GHG emissions by at least 55 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030 and to invest at least 30 per cent of its €1.8 trillion (US$2.2 trillion) long-term budget on climate-related measures. The U.K. announced plans to cut GHG emissions by 78 per cent from 1990 levels by 2035, and the U.S. announced plans for a 50-52 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.”
The European Union’s increase will largely surpass their previous target of 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 while the U.K.’s previous target was set at a reduction of 68% compared to 1990 levels by 2030.
Looking at the discrepancy between Canada and its international allies, Paul states: “Prime Minister Trudeau’s new climate target of 40 to 45 per cent signals to the international community, and the people of Canada, that his government has neither the ambition nor the capacity to match the emissions reduction targets of its closest allies.”
Need for concrete actions
Paul’s statement emphasizes the need to move away from non-renewable energy sources being at the core of Canada’s economy: “Even as our allies have begun to wind down carbon-intensive activities, our government continues to approve new oil exploration, build new pipelines and to subsidise fracking all while positioning itself as a climate champion.”
Eliminating Canada’s reliance on a fossil fuel economy while committing to more ambitious GHG reduction targets would make Canada the climate leader it needs to be, not the one it wants to be portrayed as. Concerning appropriate targets, Paul believes that a “60 per cent reduction in GHG emission from 2005 levels by 2030 with clear enforceable targets and timelines” would be adequate with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations’ task force on climate action. This target would effectively help to reduce a rise in temperature below 1.5 degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels.
This effort entails a transformation of Canada’s economy to a green economy focused on clean growth. Annamie Paul says that the Green Party has a plan to effectively operate that change: “We are the only federal party committed to ending new pipeline construction, fracking and oil and gas exploration projects and instead using those funds to invest in the infrastructure and green sectors that will create high-paying jobs, and are estimated to be worth more than US$3 trillion globally by 2030.”
As per Paul, Canada is ready for this change, it only needs ambition and political will, and she believes that the Green Party can bring that to the equation.