Last year we saw an onset of aggressive pushes made by climate scientists, pressing countries to reduce their carbon emissions. Climate change is becoming more evident to people today, owing to the sudden weather changes and natural catastrophes causing millions and billions of people a loss of life and livelihood. Additionally, scientists have also called the coming years critical in terms of climate change. Yet a lot of countries are doing little to none in terms of mitigating the effects of global warming. Today we will evaluate the Canadian policies surrounding climate change and what steps are being taken to reduce its emissions. Let’s evaluate.
The emergence of Canada’s new climate plan
In 2022, the government spent a lot of time reviewing policies to combat the climate crises in the country. As a result of this intense brainstorming, Canadians received another newly minted and detailed 2030 emissions reduction plan from the Canadian government. The new plan represents a blueprint for how Canada can attain its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The government has also announced a total investment of $10.7 billion in new funding for the two new plans in 2022. These plans are first the Canadian National Adaptation Strategy, announced in December 2020 and released in November 2022, it aims to adapt to the climate impacts like extreme weather, and the second is the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan which outlines how Canada will achieve the 2030 target of reducing emissions to 40–45% below 2005 emission levels.
As noble and zealous as the plan is, unfortunately, it still lacks refinement and pace. The plan mentions zero-carbon electricity, the sale of electric vehicles, and carbon pricing directive yet the speed and scale at which these policies are being implemented are not fast enough. According to Climateactiontracker.org, “The strategy explores several different scenarios capable of achieving net zero emissions in 2050 but does not set a particular pathway for the country to follow, nor outline policies and measures needed to achieve its net zero targets. Reliance on LULUCF and CDR could be as high as 45% of Canada’s emissions in 2020 (or 301 MtCO2e), which calls into question the credibility of the target.” The evaluation by the CAT organization suggests some improvements which need to be modified to create an achievable plan to reach the decided goal of reduced emissions.
As part of the G20 commitment, a paramount forum for international economic cooperation amongst countries which includes the climate change agenda, Canada has already eliminated eight tax preferences for the fossil fuel industry. Yet the dependency on oil and gas extraction and production is still the biggest contributor to the emissions. As per the Net-Zero advisory board recommendations report, "emissions from the oil and gas sector rose by 18.8 percent between 2005 and 2019 while emissions from the rest of the economy declined by 6.1 percent," underlining the importance of this sector in reaching even the intermediary goals on the way to net zero.” Furthermore, developing new oil and gas fields is "incompatible" with the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, according to a report released by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
Canada’s Oil & Gas fixation
Regardless, the government keeps signing new energy deals and investing in the oil and gas sector incessantly. In Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canadian oil and gas corporations are emitting four times more methane than they are reporting to the government, according to a new analysis that was just published. The continuously growing size of Canada's oil and gas industry suggests that the country will struggle to meet its 2030 goals without significant emissions cuts from that sector. Despite this, the Pathways Alliance, a consortium of six businesses that account for 95% of oil sand production, claims that by 2030, only around 30% of the government's target for carbon reduction will be achieved. There is a clear need for stricter checks & scrutiny on these projects and the level of emissions they produce, to reach the target set by the government.
Projects like trans mountain pipelines and one of the recent offshore projects Bay Du Nord in Newfoundland continue to put more financial strain on the government. The myopic view of the government towards the fulfilment of the economic goals of the country over environmental rectification is what is stopping the government from conducting a proper, comprehensive execution of their implementations to curb the emission issues of the country.
Carbon Capture – Good, bad & Ugly
Canada on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is one of the developed nations with the highest per-capita emissions production rates. The key emission reduction strategy for the sector, according to industry officials, is carbon capture and storage (CCS), however, there is little information about the effectiveness of this strategy or how well it aligns with Canada's net-zero pledge.
CCS is a method of lowering carbon emissions, which is essential in the fight against global warming. It is a 3-step process that entails capturing the CO2 produced by energy production or industrial processes, including the production of steel or cement, transferring it, and then storing it underground. In Canada, CCS production mostly caters to the oilfields, for their revitalization process. There are presently seven CCS projects which are running in Canada in the oil and gas sector contributing to only 0.5% of emission reduction. CCS is energy and financially intensive. Due to the soaring energy needs of the process and the significant infrastructure buildout required, CCS is one of the costliest emissions reduction measures. The 80% of oil and gas emissions that come from downstream use are unaffected by CCS since it is costly, energy-intensive, unreliable at scale, and costly to maintain.
To achieve the goals mentioned in the new plans government needs to take a more serious stand on climate issues instead of cashing in money through the oil and gas sectors. Additionally, building the ecosystem for electric vehicles, clean technology, and prompt monitoring of net zero reforms are a prerequisite to fulfilling the lofty target set by them. It is true Canadians cannot see positive changes right away but one way through which the government might be able to see a positive impact on our environment is by investing in short-term plans which can push the slow-paced plan into a moderate motion and will help in curbing our emissions.
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