Canada’s Climate Change Strategy Is Just the Beginning

Canada says its logging industry’s emissions are below zero. A new report says they’re actually on par with the oilsands.

With less than a month until Canada votes in its next federal government, we’re examining how the country’s politicians and government agencies are dealing with climate change over the past few years.

Canada set a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, based on reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

According to its latest report, produced in 2008, Canada’s emissions are currently at about 4.5 per cent below targets, but have been rising since 2010.

Canada’s carbon dioxide pollution, however, is among the lowest in the world.

According to the UN’s 2011 World Climate Report, the oilsands produce about one-third of Canada’s emissions. At the same time, the report says the government’s forests could absorb 70 per cent of Canada’s emissions. (The oilsands produce more than 80 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.)

In 2011, the government announced it was increasing carbon taxes over five years by $10 a tonne to pay for a $4.5-billion clean fuel fund.

In 2013, the government announced it would close 32 coal-fired power plants by 2022, and reduce emissions by 8.6 megatonnes from 2012 levels by 2025. (The world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter, the planet’s most notorious dirty energy consumer China, has only four coal-fired power plants.)

But that’s just the start. The federal government is also spending at least $45 billion in the next four years to reduce emissions. That’s equivalent to $9.5 billion a year in cash.

The government says the vast majority of it will go for clean energy projects, and its recent auction of renewable energy certificates could result in a record-high amount of wind and solar power produced.

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