Canada Announces a Mandatory 20% Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2020 and 50% Cut in Industrial Air Pollution by 2015
|Percent of total Canadian emissions of air pollutants (2002). Click to enlarge. Source: Environment Canada|
John Baird, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, today unveiled Turning the Corner: An Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollution, which imposes greenhouse gas and toxic air pollution reduction targets on industry.
The government’s goal is an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 150 megatonnes by 2020—about a 20% cut from current levels and an approximately 300 megatonnes reduction from projected 2020 levels—and cutting air pollution from industry in half by 2015.
In addition to measures to reduce air emissions from industry, the government has committed to addressing emissions from transportation by regulating—for the first time in Canada—the fuel efficiency of cars and light duty trucks, beginning with the 2011 model year. (Earlier post.)
Canada needs to do a U-Turn, because we are going in the wrong direction... We are serving notice that beginning today, industry will need to make real reductions.—Minister Baird
Industry produces about half of Canada’s greenhouse gas and air pollution. Under the new plan, it will account for about 40% of the reductions.
Cuts will be based on emissions intensity—allowing industries to increase their greenhouse gas outputs as they increase production. Companies will be able to choose the most cost-effective way to meet their targets from a range of options: in-house reductions, contributions to a capped technology fund, domestic emissions trading and offsets and access to the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. Companies that have already reduced their greenhouse gas emissions prior to 2006 will be rewarded with a limited one-time credit for early action.
The flexibility in mechanism provides some breathing room for oil sands companies, who, with the growth in the oil sands industry, are contributing heavily to the growth in greenhouse gas emissions.
Baird also announced a ban on energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs. Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said the ban will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tons a year, saving homeowners about $54 annually in electricity costs.
The new program does not bring Canada into compliance with its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol—a reduction of emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. Canada’s emissions are currently 30% above 1990 levels, and the new goal puts Canada 11% above its Kyoto targets. Under the new plan, Canada will meet its Kyoto targets in 2025, 13 years late.