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Trudeau set to break its promise to meet even Harper’s weak carbon-emissions reduction target

The Toronto Star reports, “Environment Canada is projecting that, based on policies in place last November, the country was on pace to miss its reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, pumping out at least 30 per cent more than promised that year. The report describes the projections [not as a forecast, but] as an educated guess based on policies in place as of Nov. 1, 2016.”

The article adds, “Canada will emit between 697 and 790 megatonnes of greenhouse gases in 2030, depending on a range of factors that include oil prices and the rate of economic growth. Canada’s goal under the Liberal government is to cut emissions to 523 megatonnes in 2030 — a reduction of 30 per cent below 2005 levels.”

In terms of climate-harming policies, the Liberal government:

  • approved the 760,000 barrel per day Line 3 pipeline that would emit 19-26 megatonnes of upstream greenhouse emissions each year over the next 50-60 years;

  • approved the 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline that would produce about 20-26 megatonnes of emissions each year;

  • welcomed the news of US President Donald Trump’s approval of the 830,000 barrel per day Keystone XL pipeline which would increase greenhouse gas emissions by about 22 megatonnes a year (about 1.3 billion tonnes over a 50-year period);

  • issued permits for the construction of the Site C dam, which would add 150,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year;

  • approved the Pacific Northwest LNG export facility which would result in 5.3 megatonnes of emissions a year, along with an additional 6.5-8.7 megatonnes from the extraction and fracked gas that would feed the terminal;

  • has not – as promised – begun to phase out $1.8 billion in annual federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry;

  • is still actively considering the 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East pipeline which would produce between 30-32 megatonnes of carbon pollution a year;

  • is likely to approve the Frontier open-pit tar sands mine in northern Alberta that would produce megatonnes more of carbon pollution by extracting 74,000 barrels per day by 2026 and then 277,000 barrels per day by 2035.

The Toronto Star article highlights Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan. In October 2016, Trudeau announced a charge of $10 per tonne of carbon starting in 2018 which would increase by $10 each year until it reaches $50 a tonne in 2022. That said, CBC has reported, “Simon Fraser University economist Mark Jaccard said the price on carbon would have to rise to $200 per tonne by 2030 to meet [the commitment Trudeau made at the Paris climate summit to lower emissions by 30 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030], if Canada relied on emissions pricing alone.”

The Trudeau government, like the Harper government before it, has pledged to reduce carbon emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but when translated to the more commonly used baseline of 1990 levels, that promise equals just 14 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 (well below the European Union target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2030).

The Council of Canadians calls on the Trudeau government to act responsibly by stopping its approvals of major carbon-emitting projects, ending fossil fuel subsidies, setting meaningful and scientifically-based emission reduction targets, and committing to a 100 per cent clean energy economy for 2050.