Critics Look for More Detail, Deeper Cuts After Nova Scotia Pledges Net-Zero by 2050
Nova Scotia has unveiled plans to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, and is holding the door open to set additional climate targets over the next year.
“Environment Minister Gordon Wilson introduced the province’s new environmental goals at the legislature Wednesday afternoon,” Star Halifax reports. “The bill sets out an incremental plan for reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the next 30 years, including a reduction to 53% below 2005 levels by 2030.”
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
Wilson said the target was equivalent of the IPCC’s call last year for countries to cut their emissions 45% below 2010 levels by 2030—based on either formula, he told media, the province’s emissions target would stand at 11 million tonnes per year.
Stephen Thomas, energy campaign coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, said the program is the most ambitious any Canadian jurisdiction currently has in place, but still doesn’t go far enough.
“This target is the best climate target in Canada right now, but it is also true that this doesn’t go far enough when it comes to Nova Scotia’s fair share of keeping emissions to the point where we can avoid 1.5°C of warming and the worst of what the climate crisis has for us,” Thomas said. To hit that standard, he added, the province would have to cut its 2030 emissions to 9.8 megatonnes.
“The target that’s put forward today is the global average target of what the globe needs to reduce,” he explained, “and it’s very clear from the Paris Agreement that we’re obligated to do more,” given Canada’s relative wealth, its past emissions, and its ability to reduce them.
The new legislation replaces a 2007 bill, the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which was considered ambitious at the time but set targets that expire in 2020. While the EGSPA included targets for GHG reduction, wetland protection, energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and more, Star Halifax says the new legislation leaves the specifics to be set out in future regulations, and in a strategic plan that Wilson promised to introduce by the end of next year.
Leaders of both provincial opposition parties expressed concern about what the new plan leaves out.
“My initial assessment is that it could be stronger,” said Conservative leader Tim Houston. “It could be stronger in the targets and a little bit of meat around how we get to where we need to get.”
NDP leader Gary Burrill pointed to the lack of renewable energy targets in the new bill. “That means people are not actually going to see it until it’s a fait accompli and presented before them,” he said. “These are very important matters, our environmental goals. They’re not matters to be hidden away, they’re matters to be debated and decided on by the public of Nova Scotia democratically.”