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Environment Minister: Kyoto Target Impossible for Canada

Changes by sector in Canadian GHG emissions, 1990-2003. Transportation accounts for the second and third largest increases.

Canadian Press. Canada’s Environment Minister Rona Ambrose says that it is impossible for Canada to reach its Kyoto target, and that Canada must set more realistic targets for cutting greenhouse gases.

Citing unpublished government figures, Ambrose said Canada’s emissions have climbed by almost 30% since 1990. Under the Kyoto treaty, Canada is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by the period between 2008 and 2012.

The most recently published figures of the 2003 greenhouse gas inventory showed that Canada’s GHG emissions had climbed 24% from 1990 to 2003, while the economy grew 42.8% (based on GDP).

Between 1990 and 2003, significant growth in exports of natural gas from Canada to the United States resulted in a sharp increase in the emissions associated with the production and transportation of natural gas. In 2003, these emissions were 25.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2e), a 101% increase over the 1990 level of 12.7 Mt. Total Canadian GHG emissions in 2003 were 740 Mt; total net US GHG emissions were 6,072 Mt in 2003.

The largest increase in Canadian GHG emissions between 1990 and 2003 was in the electricity and heating sector, followed by light duty gasoline-fueled trucks and then heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

The boom in the oil sands sector will be contributing significantly to ongoing increases.

Minister Ambrose will preside over the next round of Kyoto talks that open in Bonn on 15 April.

“I have had consultations with member countries and our international partners, and they are all finding themselves in the same position we are.”

Asked whether she might set new targets, Ambrose said: “Sure, that’s some that we can consider and we have to.”

“We have to work with all of our industry sectors that are obviously the causes of emissions and pollution on ways to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases and they’re willing, they’re very willing to work with the government. So that’s our next step.”

“As president of the conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, I will be vigorously defending the taxpayers of Canada and Canada’s position about approaching climate change with a realistic and effective plan,” she said.

“The next step is to start to talk about action and solutions long term. We need solutions that are out by 50, 100 years—not two years, five years.”




Even the limits under Kyoto are not sufficient to reduce GHG as much as they should be. Without penalties to countries who cannot meet their targets, the treaty is a joke. Canada is no better than the U.S. even though they signed the treaty. She will be defending the taxpayers of Canada. Who will be defending the planet.

Apparently, a significant part of the problem is that the U.S. is contributing t

Rafael Seidl

Despite its enormous forest resources, Canada admittedly has a tough time reducing its GHG emissions because most of its citizens live in a narrow 50 mile strip just north of the US border. Therefore, there is a lot of long-distance transportation involved, both domestic and into the major US markets.

Buildings ought to be heated by the waste heat streams generated by electricity production (many cities in Sweden use district heating). The easiest way to achieve this in remote woodland areas is to operate generators running on wood chips (steam boilers) or fermented biogas (gas engines). In the summer, the waste heat can be used to drive an absorption chiller if required.

Canada needs to get trucks featuring NA gasoline engines out of the showrooms: modern turbodiesels and/or hydraulic hybridization are far more appropriate. Canada is switching to low-sulphur diesel along with the US, a key requirement for the longevity of particulate filters. The cetane number can be raised to 50+ by blending in synthetic xTL fuel.

The country needs to redouble its efforts to adopt biofuels, even if the feedstocks have to be imported from tropical countries. Tar sands are good for energy security and the economy of Alberta province, but the environmental cost is very high.

Harvey D.

'....the boom in Natural Gas and Oil extracted from tar sands exported to USA will be contributing significantly to on-going increases'..... and the rate will have a tendency to increase much more quickly with all the new plants coming on board soon.

The only way for Canada to even come within sight of Kyoto would be to implement some of the 10 following changes:

1) Considerably slow down (or progresively stop all increases) in the export of Natural Gas and Oil extracted from tar sands.

2) Progressively replace present Gas and Oil exports with clean Hydro and Wind energy (this would also help USA to reduce pollution).

3) Replace all Coal generated electricity in Canada with combined Hydro/Natural Gas and Wind mills. Base energy would be from Wind with Hydro and Natural Gas units as stand-by and storage and for consumption peaks.

4) Discourage the use of heavy polluting gas guzzlers for private use with much higher (2X to 4X) purchase tax, and higher (2X to 5X) national-provincial annual registration fees.

5) Promote the purchase of smaller more efficient cars and very light trucks with much lower (or negative) purchase tax and lower (or negative) annual registration fees.

6) Apply similar incentives/penalities to delivery and heavy trucks.

7) Electrify and increase the availabilty of passenger trains and subways.

8) Upgrade all city and school busses with cleaner more efficient hybrids over the next 12 to 15 years.

9)Progressively replace all taxis with efficient hybrids within 3 to 4 years. No incentives should be required in this case because it does not cost much more.

10) Help (financially, with very low cost loans) people to switch to electric heat for their homes and to upgrade the insulation of the roofs/doors/winddows etc to reduce heat loss.



I see a lot of natural gas in your suggestions. However, it suffers from the same resource depletion problems that oil does.

And there are only so many rivers you can dam before other environmentalists start making noises. We already have this problem in the US, where we've put dams just about everywhere we can. And it's a pity, because it's just about the cleanest source of electricity we can get.

I don't see anyone stopping coal use anytime soon. However, we can make use of the emissions with algal oil for biodiesel, or possibly BTL. This would give a net reduction in emissions since the carbon is being re-used.


Coal Electricity generation in Canada is responsible for about 100 Mt CO2eq, about 14% of the total. Light duty gasoline trucks (e.g. pickups and SUVs) is 42 Mt CO2e which has doubled since 1990. Fugitive emissions (leaks) of oil and natural gas into the atmosphere is 53 Mt CO2eq. Methane leaching out of landfills is another 24 Mt CO2eq. To get from 740+ Mt to the Kyoto target of 560 Mt requires reduction of 180 to 200 Mt.

Shutting down or sequestering all the CO2 from coal plants. Sequestration is already demonstrated in Weyburn, Sask., this would extend the life of Alberta's oil fields which would be worth many billions of dollars, as well as significantly reduce pollution and CO2 emissions. In Alberta, especially Quebec and the maritime provinces there is massive wind resource potential and some untapped hydro as well to generate electricity.

Improving the fuel efficiency and/or reducing the numbers of SUVs and pickups could save ~20 Mt.

Capturing the methane from most landfills would have the dual benefit of reducing emissions while generating needed electricity or heat, this could save 10-20 Mt.

Eliminating oil and gas leaks will have financial benefits as well, this could save 30-40 Mt.

The emissions can be reduced, there just has to be the collective will to do it.

hampden wireless

No natural gas, oil or coal should be used to make electricity. All of Canada's or the USA's electricity can be made from wind, nuclear and hydro. Do you think the French are crazy to use nuclear for most of thier electricty? I don't. In the end with an excess of electric power even home heating could be done with it as it is done in France.

Nuclear, wind, solar and hydro could displace most of the energy used for cars with plug in hybrids or electric cars. If you exclude any major source of co2 free power you will never reduce our co2 output enough.


Although it is not feasible to immediately transition to electricity only using nuclear, wind, hydro, and solar, it does seem feasible to place a moratorium on any new coal fired plants or additional capacity using coal. Permit additional coal generation if any only if that is sequestered.

The amount of oil and gas leaks is shocking. How feasible is it to stop these leaks?

There is a lot of improvement to be made without sacrificing the economy but I don't believe the current
Canadian administration believes this. I, for one, however, believes that the reduction of greenhouse gases should take precedence over the economy. The future economic and other losses will swamp, so to speak, whatever short term economic gains we get from avoiding the issue.

Robert McLeod

Mark makes some good points. A huge chunk of Canada's CO2 emissions are 'non-traditional' industrial sources. Consider that _70 %_ of Canada's electricity is generated by hydro-electric or nuclear power, yet we produce only a ton less CO2 per capita than coal-heavy USA. You would think that with such a massive resevoir hydroelectric source we would be uniquely well suited for widescale wind deployment, for one.

There is more low hanging fruit for Canada than most other countries. We have a lot of methane sources to kick down first. Ambrose is simply being dishonest in my opinion; they've already cancelled a public relations campaign to encourage individual conservation called the 'one tonne challenge'.


Its money pure and simple. They can make trillions off of oil made from sands.


Don't you think, guys, that Canada is too beatiful country to be used as guonea pig for your pipe dreams? And by the way, it takes no less then Hitler in power to execute such experiments.

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