Fossil Production, Inefficient Buildings Make Canada a Global Climate Laggard
Canada shows up as one of the world’s biggest climate laggards in the Climate Transparency consortium’s annual Brown to Green report, with energy-inefficient buildings and fossil-intensive Alberta and Saskatchewan accounting for much of the country’s failure to curb its greenhouse gas emissions, National Observer reports.
The report, issued earlier this week, positions Canada’s emissions as part of a wider failure across the world’s wealthiest nations. “In 2018, global emissions grew once again, signalling that ever stronger efforts to reduce emissions are required to arrest global warming at 1.5°C,” the report states. “This means G20 countries will have to ratchet up their 2030 emissions targets in 2020 and significantly bolster mitigation, adaptation, and finance measures over the next decade.”
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But the report card for Canada “is pretty grim,” Observer writes. The country’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions “are much higher than the G20 average, at 18.9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person.” And “Canada is far from contributing its fair share toward the 1.5°C goal, with the third most energy-intensive economy in the G20,” even though much of its electricity grid is carbon-free.
Climate Transparency researchers acknowledged that decarbonization is a bigger challenge for Canada’s fossil economy than in some other countries. “It is definitely not the same to decarbonize Saudi Arabia, or Alberta in Canada, than it is to become a nice Costa Rica,” said Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis of Argentina’s Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Environment and Natural Resources Foundation). “You have a big piece of your economy depending on [fossil fuels]…you have an entire population, or part of society, that was built on that production and you are actually telling them that actually has to be gone very soon.”
Canada has introduced a coal phaseout plan that aims for a fair transition for affected workers and communities, and Climate Transparency is calling on the country to take a similar approach to oil and gas. Ipek Gençsü of the UK Overseas Development Institute said the transition will depend on cooperation across all levels of government.
“Not everyone can be retrained, we know that, so it’s just having to answer these very real questions,” she told Observer. “But definitely not delaying it, and not hiding behind unrealistic scenarios of how much the sector can continue to provide livelihoods for people, because it’s simply not true anymore.”
Climate Transparency stresses that Canada’s current, Harper-era climate target—a 30% greenhouse gas reduction from 2005 levels by 2030—is insufficient.
“If all countries merely hit their existing 2030 targets, global mean temperature would increase by around 3.0°C by 2100,” Observer writes, citing the report. “Canada could improve its overall performance by adopting a clean fuel standard and enhancing measures to boost zero-emission vehicles, including light and heavy-duty trucks, and undertaking deep energy retrofits of existing buildings.”