U.S. China climate deal pushes Canada to keep pace

U.S. China climate deal pushes Canada to keep pace

The deal would double the annual rate at which the U.S. is reducing its emissions


OTTAWA – Canadian policy-makers can expect to come under intense pressure now that the United States and China have reached a ground-breaking agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The deal, announced in Beijing, would double the annual rate at which the U.S. is reducing its emissions and, by 2025, cut emissions to 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels.

China, meanwhile, says 20 per cent of its energy will come from zero-emission sources by 2030, the year the country has promised its greenhouse gas emissions will peak. It’s the first time China has agreed to cap emissions.

The Conservative government in Ottawa has long argued that curbing Canada’s relatively paltry emissions on the global scale was not a priority when major emitters such as China were unwilling to act.

“That excuse of ‘why should others do something when the two largest emitters in the world are not,’ that argument is seriously undermined today,” David McLaughlin, the former head of the federal Round Table on the Environment and Economy, said in an interview.

“It puts real pressure on Canada to up its climate game.”

Regulation of the oil and gas sector has been promised – and delayed – for years, even as Canada falls well behind on its international commitment to cut emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. The Americans have the same 2020 target and were on track to meet it before President Barack Obama announced the new, more aggressive goal.

“The bedrock of Canadian climate policy is aligning and going in lockstep with the United States,” said McLaughlin. “That only works when the United States is moving at a pace that we can keep up.”

Now the U.S. is leaping ahead.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Canada “is taking decisive action” on curbing emissions but did not dispute the country will miss its 2020 international commitment under the Copenhagen accord.

In 2012, the last year for which the government has data, emissions were 5.1 per cent below 2005 levels, Ted Laking said in an email.

“With respect to oil and gas regulations, this is a continental issue that needs a North American solution,” said Laking. “We will continue to work with the United States on reducing GHG emissions for the oil and gas sector.”

Environmental groups say Canada has run out of excuses and can no longer hold up the fig leaf of economic competitiveness with its dominant trading partner.

“This move by the world’s two largest polluters takes away the Harper government’s main excuse for their inaction on climate change,” said Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada energy researcher.

“If our government continues to act as a cheerleader for the global oil industry, Canada risks being left behind politically and economically as the rest of the world steps up the fight against climate change by moving on to cleaner energy.”

China’s promise to move to a 20 per cent mix of zero-emissions energy is the economic hinge in the agreement, said Alex Wood of Sustainable Prosperity.

“When you’re talking about building at the kind of scale anything involving China requires, there will be lots of money to be made by those with solutions to offer,” Wood said in interview.

“It’s basically going to turbocharge the whole clean-energy sector. Where are we on that? We’re not part of that conversation.”

The China-U.S. deal comes the same day the International Energy Agency released its annual World Energy Outlook.

The report noted that global fossil fuel subsidies totalled about $550 billion in 2013, while subsidies for renewables hit $120 billion.

It projects global oil demand will peak by 2040 and that there will be huge demand for renewables that will be difficult to meet.

“A well-supplied oil market in the short-term should not disguise the challenges that lie ahead, as the world is set to rely more heavily on a relatively small number of producing countries,” said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

And that reality, for a Canadian prime minister whose political base is in the oil-producing West, explains the differing rhetoric between Harper and Obama.

“It shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge,” Obama said of the China agreement Wednesday in Beijing.

Harper, during a visit to Ottawa by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot in June, struck a far different tone.

“No country is going to undertake action on climate, no matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country,” said Harper.

“We are just a little more frank about that, but that is the approach that every country is seeking.”


U.S. China climate deal pushes Canada to keep pace

  1. We won’t see any change until after the next election, at minimum. Harper can’t risk the western vote if he is to have any hope of staying in power.

    • Republicans promised on Wednesday to use their expanded power in Congress to undermine Barack Obama’s historic deal over carbon emissions with China on Wednesday, claiming Beijing could not be trusted to see through its side of an agreement that would ultimately damage the US economy.

      The hard-hitting response from top Republicans to the historic deal between the US and China – the world’s two largest emitters – foreshadowed an expected collision with the White House over climate change that looks set to define Obama’s last two years in office and could shape the 2016 presidential elections.

      Emboldened by their victory in last week’s midterm elections, which gave Republicans control over the Senate as well as the House of Representatives, the president’s opponents are searching for ways to hobble a bold climate change strategy that Obama’s aides believe could be the legacy of his second term in office.

      That fight will encompass top-line carbon emissions targets set by White House, rules implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will reduce pollution from power stations and a looming and totemic decision over the Keystone XL pipeline.

      The pipeline is a politically contentious project that the Obama administration has repeatedly delayed. The Keystone pipeline, which would transport crude oil from Canada to refineries on the US Gulf Coast, has become a hugely symbolic proxy for the battle between environmentalists and the corporate energy sector.

      In a sign of the strength of opposition faced by Obama even within the ranks of his own party, the Democratic senator, Mary Landrieu – who is in the midst of a re-election campaign in Louisiana that has gone to a runoff – took to the Senate floor on Wednesday call for an immediate vote to approve Keystone XL.

      “You don’t become a super energy power by just wishing it,” Landrieu said, calling on Senate Republicans to help her pass legislation to endorse the pipeline.

      She was supported on the floor by other pro-energy Democrats: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. It was later confirmed that both the House and Senate would hold votes on the pipeline.

  2. Obama’s lame duck hail Mary……………the worst president in US history.

    This deal is a dead man walking…………….Obummer.

  3. Obama Climate Deal To Triple CO2 Emissions By 2030
    Posted on November 13, 2014 by stevengoddard

    It is pretty entertaining watching a total moron making deals about things he has no control over, and I’m sure the Chinese feel the same way I do.

    Obama’s “climate” deal allows Chinese CO2 emissions to continue growing in a hockey stick for the next 15 years.