Aug. 08, 2012 - Issue #877: Corb Your Enthusiasm
Depending on how you calculate them, the numbers can always work in your favour. The key to knowing the truth is in knowing how to deconstruct the context. This week the federal government released a report titled "Canada's Emissions Trends 2012" which states that Canada is making progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting climate targets. And while it may look like the country is making progress, the Canadian government has just been playing a numbers game and removing key players to win.
The progress Minister Peter Kent is referring to is in Canada's steps toward meeting its commitments for the Copenhagen Accord, which calls for a reduction of emissions to 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2020. This is the result of international haggling over emissions targets after withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol commitments in 2011. The Kyoto Protocol originally called for Canada to reduce emissions to six percent below 1990 levels, but by 2009 the country had expanded emissions to 17 percent higher than 1990.
According to the report this week Canada is 50 percent toward meeting its 2020 goal. The Pembina Institute has stated this is the result of updating baseline counts and considerable individual action by provinces.
In fact according to a federal report just this past spring, the Canadian government was nowhere near making this amount of progress toward its goals. As stated in the conclusions of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, "Canada will not achieve its 2020 GHG emissions reduction target unless significant new, additional measures are taken. More will have to be done. No other conclusion is possible." It had similar criticisms that Pembina does over this week's announcement: a lack of coordination between provincial reductions and a (lacking) national strategy as well as the insufficient sector-by-sector approach the government is taking toward emissions reductions. The report goes on to suggest mechanisms the government could employ to meet its targets.
The federal government, however, may not have found this report too interesting as in the federal omni-budget passed in June it decided to remove the NRTEE, an independent body constructed to deconstruct federal action and progress on climate policy. In the same budget the federal government canned the requirement of the Commissioner of the Environment to report regularly on Canada's implementation progress. So with this recent release from the federal government on its stated climate progress, I guess we'll just have to take Peter Kent's word for it, because there's no one left to help us out with the numbers.
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