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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.




Ya know, i've heard a lot of critisism about this plan, but I like it. It's stupid to think that we can reach kyoto targets at this point. I mean the liberals brought us 30% above 1990 levels, and then have the balls to say that the tories need to take us down. I'm not saying that I like the conservatives, but this plan isn't the worst I've seen. I also like the point Baird makes about how setting targets for 2050 is stupid since most of them will be dead by the time that comes around. Long term targets are nice, but only if they're bound by law, or else the next government in power is going to scrap their plan in favour of their own(one downfall of democracy)


how are they going to achieve this while still trying to triple tar sands oil production by 2015?

Some Jerk

For the tar sands to be feasibly extracted under these CO2 restrictions, Energy Alberta's plans for CANDU nuclear reactors to generate steam to separate out the hydrocarbons will have to go forward.

Harvey D.


Alberta may not have too many other choices because cheap natural gas may be a rare commodity by 2020/25.

Could wind supply some of the massive energy required and/or complement Nuclear?

If we, (USA + Canada), switch to 100+ mph PHEVs and BEVs, tar sands extraction may not have to be increased by 3x to 5x. by 2020/25.



Yes the liberals brought us a 30% increase in CO2 above 1990 levels, but during that same time Canada had a 50% increase in our economy. That's a reduction in our emissions intensity. Don't you think its two-faced of the Conservatives to put down the Liberals for achieving the goals they're now setting for themselves?
To quote the article "Cuts will be based on emissions intensity—allowing industries to increase their greenhouse gas outputs as they increase production."

Stan Peterson

I question the proportions on the pie chart for Trasnportation 25%, and Industry 51%, as contributors to GHG gases.

ALL the other studies from the EU, Japan and the US show the exact opposite. Transportation is by far the greatest emitter of GHGs. In the US NREL study, that you can still reference on these GCC pages, you can see that discrepancy.

I suspect that the chart is mislabelled, with the data in fact Transportation 51% (or more) and Industry 25%. Even at 51% for Transportation htat figure stil seems low.


"Baird also announced a ban on energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs."

I hope the ban is based on watt/lumen or some other technology-agnostic metric.

Diane Gratton

Why is there nothing being done to promote electric vehicles in our neighborhoods?

There is no lesgislation for electric neighbourhood vehicles... (Except in Montana where a law has just been created to add the new "Medium-speed" vehicle category required to distinguish this type of vehicle from the 4kW golf carts)

Canada is still following the marketing pitch of "Bigger is safer" rather than the "slower is safer".

The French Postal Services have tested the Cleanova series hybrid vehicles and found that "one electric kilometer" cost 6 times less than "one diesel kilometer". These vehicles will also save the Postal Services 4 tons of CO2 for each vehicle per year. They plan on replacing 10,000 of their vehicles.


Stan: I think you would find the following link
helpful in understanding Canadian emissions. Since that chart was produced oil sands production has ramped up even further.


“Baird also announced ban on energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs”

Funny thing. Maces and mini-cross bows are banned in Canada. Axes, swords, shot guns and rifles are OK.


Ah yes, Canada will be using less oil over the next few years because of Heroic Civic Action. Not because of anything like Peak Oil. Ah,... yes.

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