Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Steam spews from the stacks of a Toronto natural-gas-fired power station in January of 2012.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Canada is halfway toward meeting its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, despite projections for major increases from growing oil-sands production.

Environment Minister Peter Kent announced Wednesday that combined federal and provincial actions to date will result in an emissions reduction of 130 megatonnes by 2020. Further efforts will be needed to cut emissions by an additional 113 megatonnes.

The Harper government has committed Canada to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, a target that is in line with the target adopted by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Story continues below advertisement

"The Harper government has been working hard to reduce emissions, and this has helped set the stage for the progress we've achieved this year," Mr. Kent said.

But critics say Ottawa hasn't gone far enough. Dr. Christian Holz, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, released a statement on Wednesday criticizing the Harper government for being a 'lobby arm' for the oil sands.

"It is important to recognize the effect of adjusted accounting rules this year, which make it appear that we are further along that we actually are. (The "baseline" or goalpost has been changed giving the impression of better numbers without any actual meaningful policy improvements)," the statement said.

The oil industry remains by far the largest source of expected emissions growth. Between 2005 and 2020, the sector's annual GHG output will grow by 45 megatonnes, as a result of growth in oil-sands production. That increase would completely offset the 41-megatonne reduction expected from the electricity sector.

The government is expected to soon release final regulations for the power sector which would dramatically reduce coal use. But the impact of those regulations will primarily occur after 2020, when current plants reach the end of their commercial life.

The government is promising to eventually introduce emission regulations for other sectors, including oil and gas and heavy industry, and those measures would reduce the forecasted emissions growth.

Last year, Ottawa said it was only a quarter of the way to its target. The major difference this year comes from the inclusion for the first time of land-use practices that are governed by a United Nations agreement.

Story continues below advertisement

As well, the federal government has introduced new fuel efficiency vehicle standards, while several provinces have unveiled new policies to cut emissions.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies