Despite a report showing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2019, the federal environment minister says the country is right where it needs to be to start seeing them fall.
The national inventory report filed each April to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says in 2019, the country’s emissions were 730 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and its equivalents.
Once in the atmosphere carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap heat, which causes climate change.
The 2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year.
The latest findings show its emissions levels to be closer to where they were in 2005 compared to where the government has promised they will be by 2030.
By that year, Canada has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 511 million tonnes.
Canada’s environment and climate change minister said without existing federal climate-change policies its modelling shows 2019 emissions would have been 34 million tonnes higher.
“What it tells us is we actually are very much on track to exceeding this current target. Of course we need to do more going forward,” Jonathan Wilkinson said Monday.
Among the policies his department credits for resulting in lower than forecasted emissions was a national carbon price.
Ottawa imposed a fuel charge on Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick in April 2019, after it said a sufficient standard wasn’t included in the plans developed by each province.
New Brunswick eventually submitted its own scheme, which Ottawa approved, while Alberta became subject to the federal price after getting rid of its own.
Wilkinson said Monday that many of the federal emissions-reduction measures come into place progressively, such as the carbon tax.
The price per tonne will increase by $10 until 2022 when it reaches $50, and after that increases by $15 until it reaches $170 a tonne.
Wilkinson said regulations around methane and a clean fuel standard are also only starting to take hold.
“We’ve seen good progress and we’ve seen progress in line with what we told Canadians they should see.”
The national inventory report summitted to the UN has a two-year lag. Wilkinson said the 2021 study, which will focus on emissions in 2020, should show a decline.
He acknowledged part of that will no doubt be from the COVID-19 pandemic, where millions of Canadians stayed home instead of driving to work or travelling.
“We believe, just in absolute terms, taking out the effects of the pandemic, you’re going to see an absolute reduction next year and every year thereafter,” said Wilkinson.
Canada presented an updated climate plan last December that it promises to reduce emissions even further, and put the country on a path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also expected to unveil new emissions targets for 2030 around a climate summit hosted by United States President Joe Biden.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
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