Ottawa to spend $9.1 billion to end climate change loss streak

OTTAWA — The federal government has unveiled its new roadmap to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, including $9.1 billion in new spending for climate initiatives and a vision to reverse and reduce the growing carbon pollution of Canada’s oil and gas sector.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault tabled the plan Tuesday morning in the House of Commons. The plan is a key requirement of the government’s Climate ‘Responsibility’ Act which aims to ensure Canada breaks its losing streak and finally delivers on its promise to cut greenhouse gas pollution that causes climate change .

A significant part of that will be reducing emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector, where emissions from extraction increased by about 67% between 2005 and 2019, according to the most recent federal data. The Liberals have promised to put in place an emissions cap for the sector, and the new plan outlines how the government expects emissions from the oil and gas industry – responsible for more than a quarter of the country’s emissions. Canada in 2019 – fall 42% below current level. levels by 2030.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, delivering a keynote address at a convention in Vancouver on Tuesday, called the expected decline in oil and gas emissions “reasonable” and framed the goal as an incentive to move away from vested interests. companies in fossil fuels.

“The big oil lobbies have spent their time in the field. Now it is the turn of workers and engineers to build solutions for their sectors, for their communities and for their children,” said Trudeau.

The plan also outlines expected emission reductions from buildings, transport, heavy industry and electricity.

To help drive those reductions, the plan includes additional funds for federal climate programs, including $2.2 billion for the “Low Carbon Economy Fund,” which funds clean energy projects, 850 million for clean electricity projects in Canada and $780 million for projects that conserve wetlands and other natural features that store carbon.

On zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), the plan promises an additional $400 million to build more charging stations and $1.7 billion to expand the incentive program for people who buy these cars. The Canada Infrastructure Bank is also committing to spend $500 million on ZEV infrastructure, the plan says.

The government will also require that at least 20% of new light-duty vehicles sold in 2026 be ZEVs, a threshold that will increase to 60% in 2030 and 100% in 2035.

Last year, the Liberal government abandoned the climate goal inherited from Stephen Harper’s Conservative administration — and to which it had committed as part of the Paris International Accord in 2015 — and replaced it with a more ambitious goal of reducing emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Trudeau insisted on Tuesday that the new plan would ensure Canada meets that goal, describing a “shared responsibility” to address climate change at a time of devastating floods and fires across Canada in recent years.

“It can’t be like before,” Trudeau said. “Lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

But Canada is far from this goal. The latest emissions data compiled by Environment Canada show that greenhouse gas pollution has only decreased by about 1% from 2005 to 2019. Significant declines in emissions from electricity generation, in largely due to government-mandated shutdowns of coal-fired power plants, were offset during this period by marked increases in emissions from oil and gas extraction (67%) and road transport (14 %), depending on the data.

Tuesday’s new plan aims to finally reduce annual emissions towards the 2030 target – and break Canada’s sad losing streak on its international climate commitments. This country has failed on every emission reduction pledge it has ever made, a dismal record that the federal environment commissioner lamented last year when he noted that the roughly 1% increase emissions from Canada since the Liberals took power in 2015 is the worst performance. in the G7.

The plan includes an “intermediate target” to reduce emissions by at least 20% below 2005 levels by 2026, and indicates that the measures included in the plan should reduce emissions by 36% in 2030, the measures still under development to be designed to help reduce the remaining gap to at least 40% that year.

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Teresa H. Sadler