Friday, May 20, 2011

Greenhouse gas emissions on the way down - but why?

Does Harper's plan for emissions reduction include a permanent recession or a state of stunted manufacturing?

May 19, 2011

A new Environment Canada report, released earlier this week, has found that 2009 green house gas (GHG) emissions dropped 41 Mt or 5.7% since 2005.

The National Inventory Report (NIR), concludes that the major drivers were the 2008/2009 recession and the closure of coal burning energy facilities by provincial governments, like Ontario and Manitoba.

Under the Kyoto Accord, Canada signed on to a 6% reduction of emissions below 1990 levels. The new Conservative government altered direction and under the more recent Copenhagen Accord, it changed its commitment and the 1990 based year.

Currently, Canada’s committed goal is to reduce its GHG emissions to a level of 17% below the 2005 level by the year 2020. So this new goal is even less ambitious than the previous one but with more challenging circumstances.

The energy sector produced a whopping 82% of our 2009 emissions. The report also states that over the long term, "Major increases in oil and gas production (much of it for export), as well as a large increase in the number of motor vehicles, especially light-duty gasoline trucks (vans, SUVs and pick-ups) and heavy-duty diesel vehicles (commercial transport trucks) have contributed to the significant rise in GHG emissions."

The Harper government has been criticized for not having a realistic plan to achieve the modest targets. Internationally, Canada ranks at the bottom for emissions reductions. To date, some provinces are doing far more than the federal government.

The federal and provincial governments have a significant role to play in building an economy that is not based on carbon rich fossil-fuels. Creating a low carbon or "green" economy is essential to meeting and exceeding our emissions targets.

While Stephen Harper insists that ‘managing the economy’ is central, he utterly fails to come to grips with the fact that not meeting our committed reduction goals jeopardizes our future.

As Canadians, we need to rethink the way we construct buildings, produce products and generate energy. We need policies that support affordable green energy for all. We need programs to foster local sustainable economies and provide equitable job opportunities.

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