Reaching our GHG goals thanks to a price on carbon

Peter Kent addresses the UN convention on climate change in Doha.

Canada is halfway to achieving our national effort to meet our Copenhagen target. The combined efforts to date of federal, provincial and territorial governments, of consumers and of businesses will generate half the greenhouse gas reduction required to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas target by 2020.

This year’s report on emissions trends, surveyed the federal, provincial and territorial scenes thusly.

In this year’s report, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to be slightly higher in 2020 than in the previous report (by 0.8%), while GHG emissions are lower (by 5.3%). The projected decline in GHG emissions is thus associated with a reduction in  intensity, implying greater de-coupling between GDP and GHGs. The improvements in  emission intensity are in part due to: i) increased contribution of the services sector,  which typically emits less emissions per dollar of GDP; and ii) actual emissions in 2010 were lower than projected, while actual GDP was higher. The decline in emissions intensity was also due to the fact that consumers and businesses are making more progress in reducing emissions. Government programs are contributing to this by helping to accelerate the adoption of energy efficient technologies and cleaner fuels.

Canada is moving forward to regulate GHGs on a sector-by-sector basis, aligning with the U.S where appropriate. The Government of Canada has started with the
transportation and electricity sectors – two of the largest sources of Canadian emissions – and plans to move forward with regulations in partnership with other key
economic sectors, including oil and gas. Last year’s report included emissions regulations for light-duty vehicles for the model years 2011-2016 as well as an
electricity performance standard to phase-out coal-fired electricity, Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation, British Columbia’s carbon tax and Quebec’s carbon
levy. Provincial policies such as Ontario’s phase-out of coal-fired electricity also made important contributions. Projected emissions levels in the 2012 version of the report have further declined, in part through the inclusion of further federal actions on additional emissions regulations for light-duty vehicles for the 2017-2025 period as well as heavy duty vehicle regulations. Recent provincial actions (e.g., Quebec’s capand-trade, Nova Scotia’s emissions cap for electric utilities, increased stringency of building energy codes, equipment standards and requirements for capturing methane from landfill gas) are also included. Total emissions in 2020 are projected to decrease to 720 Mt.

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