Clean Technology Canada

Cdn. Environment Minister still optimistic about emissions targets

November 11, 2022
By The Canadian Press

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Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions crept back up in 2021 after falling sharply during the first year of COVID-19, and experts believe they will go up even further this year as the return to normal has accelerated.

The European Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research shows Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions grew three per cent in 2021 after falling nearly 10 per cent in 2020.

That is on track with the worldwide trend reported at the United Nations climate talks in Egypt on Nov. 11 by the Global Carbon Project. Its annual carbon budget says emissions in 2021 returned to 2019 levels, and they are expected to grow one per cent this year compared to 2019.

It said that by the end of this year, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will be 51 per cent higher than in pre-industrial times, and the budget for climate success is getting ever smaller.

Still, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said he is feeling more optimistic than ever that Canada and the rest of the world may be able to live up to the Paris climate agreement.

That target is to keep global warming to as close to 1.5 C as possible. Above 1.5 C, the effects of climate change grow exponentially, and after 2 C, some of the change could be irreversible.

When it comes to emissions-cutting, Canada is lagging behind its peers. The Global Carbon Project says the biggest hope for containing global warming is that 24 countries saw significant economic growth between 2012 and 2021 and still cut their emissions.

Canada is not among them. It is the only G7 country not on the list, with emissions holding steady between 2012 and 2021.

The European data show Canada’s carbon emissions rose the slowest of any G7 country in 2021, but also shows Canada has done the worst job of any G7 country in lowering carbon dioxide emissions since 2005. That year is the starting point for the targets under the Paris climate accord.

In the 16 years since then, Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen three per cent. Japan cut carbon dioxide 16 per cent since 2005, the United States cut it 20 per cent, Germany 21 per cent, France 26 per cent, Italy 36 per cent and the United Kingdom 40 per cent.

And the data show Canada is the only G7 country whose methane and nitrous oxide emissions rose between 2005 and 2021. Its methane emissions are up 2.7 per cent, while nitrous oxide increased 18 per cent.

Canada promised that by 2030, total emissions will be down 40 to 45 per cent.

The country’s struggle to cut emissions more than it has came in large part because oil production has grown exponentially, with emissions growth in that sector and from transportation offsetting improvements in electricity and manufacturing.

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