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Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Friday that Canada aims to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent by the year 2030.

Canadian climate news paves the way for next generation

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Saturday, May 16, 2015, 10:43 PM - Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Friday that Canada aims to reduce carbon emissions 30 per cent by the year 2030.

The announcement comes as the United Nations gears up for the 2015 climate conference in Paris later this year. While other nations from around the world have been submitting strong commitments and goals, the federal government was waiting on the provinces to lead the way, leaving some to comment that Canada's response to the threat of climate change has seemed less than enthusiastic.

Now that the federal announcement has come - with the fairly ambitious target of a 30 per cent reduction below 2005 levels by the year 2030 - it appears as though this will still largely fall on the provinces to fulfill.

At the same time, questions arise about how Canada can meet this target when it is already struggling to meet its previous commitment - reducing emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels, by 2020 - made during the Copenhagen Accord of 2009.

According to the CBC, sources say that Canada will need to rely on credits bought on the international market - with the money spent on those targets used to support green initiatives and clean energy projects that will hopefully offset Canada's higher emissions.

In a press release issued shortly after Minister Aglukkaq's announcement, representatives of Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-C) leveled criticism at the federal plan.

Focusing not only on the timeline of the commitment - which is 5 years behind a similar target from the United States - but also the plan's reliance on accounting factors rather than actually addressing Canada's rising carbon emissions, the environmental group was quick to point out that this target set by the federal government is weaker than it looks.

According to the Climate Action Network Canada press release:

"The federal approach to controlling climate disrupting pollution puts our people, communities and economy at risk by failing to ensure the country joins the global march toward a clean energy system."

"To keep our people, communities and economy safe requires that Canada join the global community in making deep cuts to carbon pollution by shifting away from burning coal, oil and gas in favour of clean, renewable energy like solar, wind and hydropower. Canada is currently ranked among the world’s top 10 largest emitters, with Alberta - the extraction site for Canada’s oil sands - accountable for 73 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emission growth since 1990. Only a rapid transition to a clean energy system, in Canada and around the world, will ensure we avoid dangerous climate disruption from rapid global warming.
"Instead of the transformative energy systems change required, the federal government has chosen to regulate methane from the oil and gas sector‎ in line with the U.S. as well as process emissions from chemicals (ethylene, styrene, methanol and ethanol) and nitrogen fertilizers (ammonia and nitric acid). Controlling greenhouse gases like methane and nitrogen oxides are important, but Canada needs to go further than planned in controlling all greenhouse gases. Canada has refused to regulate carbon pollution from the oil sands, the fastest growing source of carbon emissions in Canada."

The reality of Canada's new emissions target is that it is not in line with what the science says is necessary to limit global warming to just 2 degrees C over pre-industrial levels.

"A target consistent with the scientific consensus would see Canada commit to cutting carbon pollution nationally by at least one third by 2025 (35% below 2005), combined with $4 billion annually in international climate finance by 2020 that would aim to generate global reductions equivalent to Canada’s remaining greenhouse gas emissions, ”" said Steven Guilbeault, cofounder and deputy director of Equiterre, who sits on the CAN-C board of directors.

The goal of these commitments, and the importance of their timing, is the upcoming 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris. Nations from around the world have been charged with submitting their plans and carbon reduction targets, so that the world can come to a realistic and effective climate agreement in December.

"Climate change is borderless. Environment is borderless," said U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman, while on a visit to The Weather Network. "The weather doesn't stop at one border versus another and climate change is real. So, we all have to work together, to do the things that are necessary, to leave this planet in a better place."

"Knowing that we have partners in this," he added, "this is not one country's responsibility, it's every country's responsibility. The United States looks forward to working with everybody, trying to reach this goal for Paris."

Source: CBC | Climate Action Network Canada

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