By Roy L Hales
Tom Mulcair just announced his plan “to restore Canada’s environmental credibility at home and around the world by putting a price on carbon, making polluters pay and taking meaningful steps to reduce carbon emissions.” Mulcair is right, it is time Canada cleaned up its’ emissions.
NDP Commitment To Clean Up Emissions
“Under Stephen Harper, Canada’s climate record has lacked leadership and been criticized by the United Nations for falling behind many other countries.” said Mulcair. “An NDP government is going to work with provinces and territories to develop a pan-Canadian cap-and-trade system that sets concrete emissions limits for Canada’s big polluters, which will have a significant positive impact on climate change.”
Erin Flanagan of the Pembina Institute has been quick to respond, “We applaud the NDP’s commitment to science-based emissions reduction targets for the medium and long term. These targets are much more ambitious than Canada’s current pledge. They would help ensure that Canada does its fair share to prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change.”
Canada’s Emissions Record
According to data the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (Edgar), Canada was the 9th worst emitter of CO2 on the planet in 1990. As of 2013 we were #13. Though Stephen Harper wants to claim the credit for this “accomplishment,” a large part of it really belongs to Ontario for shutting down its’ coal plants. The reality is Canada’s emissions are far worse than China’s (#43).
Though Canada has improved in the quarter century since 1990, our attempts to clean up our emissions lag behind all but one of the other G7 nations.
The leaders, when it comes to reducing per capita emissions, are: the UK (26.47%), Germany (19.68%), France (18.84%), Italy (16%) and the United States (15.56%). The only nation that did worse than Canada is Japan, whose per capita emissions actually rose.
Canada looks even worse in terms of our progress as a nation. The European Union met the benchmark set by the Kyoto accord and, collectively, has been more than 19% below 1990 level since 2013. Neither the United States or Canada have met this target. America’s emissions were 6% above in 2013 and Canada’s emissions were 19% above (and rising).
The Politics of Protecting Our Environment
Under Stephen Harper’s leadership, we aren’t going to make our 2020 target either.
Politically speaking, the Liberals, NDP or Green Party are all in a much better position to do this. They attract voters who want to see Canada’s environmental issues addressed. The Conservatives draw much of their support from the fossil fuel sector which has dominated the nation’s economy up to now.
The NDP Carbon Tax
In their press release, the NDP stated:
“An NDP government is going to work with provinces and territories to develop a pan-Canadian cap-and-trade system that sets concrete emissions limits for Canada’s big polluters, which will have a significant positive impact on climate change.”
“The NDP plan will recognize efforts already underway in provinces like British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and will allow jurisdictions to opt out if their own carbon pricing plans meet or exceed federal objectives. A Mulcair government will also re-introduce Jack Layton’s Climate Change Accountability Act to make certain that Canada meets its long-term target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Chart at top of page: Bar Chart of Emissions Reductions among the G& nations from 1990 until 2013, from EDGAR data – Roy L Hales