Climate disrupting oil and gas emissions soar under Harper

The Globe and Mail reports, "Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions will (continue to) rise sharply after 2020 unless there are dramatic efforts to rein in emissions from the oil and gas sector, the Harper government indicates in a new report to the United Nations. The document was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in late December with no announcement or press release. As it was being filed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper signalled his government was delaying for as long as two years the release of long-promised regulations to reduce emissions from the booming oil-sands sector."

In terms of numbers, the article notes:

- "Without the climate regulations, the government forecasts that emissions from the oil and gas sector will soar by 23 per cent between 2005 and 2020, and by 48 per cent by 2030, swamping progress in other sectors. Fuelled by oil sands growth, Alberta’s emissions are projected to increase by 40 per cent between 2005 and 2030..."

- "The documents show that, without further policy action, Canada’s emissions would be 734 megatonnes by 2020, or 20 per cent higher than the target of 612 megatonnes."

- "Without new measures, the government forecasts emissions in 2030 would be 815 megatonnes, or 33 per cent higher than its current 2020 target."

"The report to the UN gives no indication of how Ottawa plans to meet a commitment Mr. Harper made at the Copenhagen summit in 2009 that Canada would reduce its emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. Instead, it talks vaguely about new regulations in its 'sector-by-sector' approach, while adding that provinces, businesses and consumers also have a responsibility to address climate change."

It should be noted that even the target of a '17 per cent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020' is misleading.

- Canada had previously pledged under the Kyoto accord to a 6 per cent cut in emissions below 1990 by 2012.

- As explained in a 2010 news article, "According to Ottawa’s 2007 Greenhouse Gas Inventory, this country produced 718 megatonnes of emissions in 2006. The original 20 per cent cut Harper had promised (in April 2007) based on 2006 figures would bring national emissions slightly below 1990 levels (about 3 percent) - but not enough to meet its Kyoto obligations. For a variety of reasons, Canada’s emissions in 2005 were actually higher than 2006 - at 731 megatonnes. So the 17 per cent cut promised would bring levels down to 606.73 megatonnes - which is actually 2.5 per cent higher than 1990 levels."

The article adds, "As part of a UN-led effort to reach a global treaty by 2015, the federal government is expected this year to announce an emission-reduction target for 2030 that would be significantly lower than 2020 levels. All countries that committed to reducing emissions file annual reports on their progress with the UN."

Beginning in 2009, the Council of Canadians has been calling on the Harper government to commit to an emissions reduction target of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. The 40 per cent emissions reduction target is in keeping with the call for atmospheric carbon to be stabilized at 350 parts per million. The Council of Canadians has on its calendar the next two United Nations climate summits (Lima, Peru in 2014; Paris, France in 2015) as possible points of intervention on this critical issue. We continue to focus on the stopping of the pipelines - Energy East, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain - which are necessary for the expansion of the tar sands.

Further reading
New study shows climate change impact on the world's water
Prime Minister's Office 'sandbagged' to stop Harper's tar sands flood
Council of Canadians evaluates the Copenhagen Accord