Canada’s emissions on the rise, set to miss reductions targets

• October 30, 2013
canada's emissions

The development of Alberta’s tar sands are largely responsible for Canada’s growing greenhouse gas emissions. Creative Commons: Kris Krug, 2012

Despite its public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Environment Canada reports that Canada’s emissions are are off-track to meet their goals and are only increasing.

After agreeing to take a proactive stance at the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009, instead of reducing emissions by 17%, Ottawa expects them to grow 20% more than their 2020 goal.

In 2009, the country set a target of 612 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. In actuality, Environment Canada is projecting that Canada will release 734 tonnes of emissions with more on the way as Canada remains poised to develop its fossil fuel resources, most prominently the oil sands.

When asked about the 2020 goals, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who is currently preparing for the next round of UN climate talks in Warsaw, offered no comment nor any suggestions to amend the situation.  Meanwhile, the government’s actions continue to come into question after scaling back regulation for a number of oil sands and pipeline projects. P.J. Partington of the Pembina Institute said,

It’s time for the Harper government to change this picture before it’s too late. The most crucial component of a credible plan to get Canada back on track is strong regulations for the oil and gas sector.

Canada is only making matters worse by easing up on regulation. A significant number of fuel-related projects will no longer require an assessment from Environment Canada in order to move forward. The list includes groundwater extraction facilities, heavy oil and oilsands processing facilities as well as pipelines, potash mines and other industrial mineral mines, and industrial facilities.

Canada’s relaxed stance on regulating dirty fossil fuel sources comes with dire consequences for both climate and public health. University of California Irvine scientists have found elevated numbers of carcinogens and other airborne pollutants in the vicinity of Alberta’s tar sands. Overexposure to these emissions can be linked to cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and even cancer.


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