Twice in April 2021, Canada has increased its level of commitment to fight climate change. First was with the Federal Budget, and immediately after at the Leaders Summit on Climate on Earth Day.
Federal Budget 2021
The new budget two weeks ago detailed additional measures so Canada has concrete plans in place to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to 36% of 2005 levels by 2030. Prior to this budget the goal had been to reach a 30% reduction. This budget pledged $5B over 7 years to Net Zero Accelerator, 50% tax cut for manufacturers of net zero technologies, and $4.4B over 5 years as a loan for home retrofits. Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, committed these billions of dollars in new spending to help private sector companies, including those in emissions-intensive industries like steel and concrete, to develop and adopt cleaner technology. The government is also supporting measures to make natural gas less caron-intesnive.
2021 Earth Day Leaders Summit on Climate Hosted by Joe Biden
Here is a summary of what was reported on the CBC News Network with Suhana Meharchand April 21, 2021
On Earth Day last week, ‘climate warrior’ Joe Biden pledged to double the USA’s efforts and cut GHG emissions by 52% of its 2005 levels by 2030. As well, under the pressure of the global community at this virtual climate summit, Trudeau pledged Canada will slash carbon emissions by 40-45% of the 2005 levels by 2030. For Canada this equates to lowering emissions from 732 megatons to 439. This will blow past the December targets for 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, and the recent federal budget of a 35% reduction. It means that 2021 would be the last year Canada sees an increase in emissions. As it stands now emissions are down 1.1% compared to that of 2005 baseline.
On Earth Day Environment Minister Wilkinson stated that over the next 9 years there is ambition to find 4-9% more reduction in green house gas emissions. This part is not mapped out yet, but will come thru working with the USA on vehicle efficiency and EV plans, thru building retrofits, as well as by reducing methane gas up to 75%. Wilkinson said he has spoken to the co-chairs of the government’s new Net-zero Advisory Panel to review the Canadian economy, sector by sector, to determine where additional reductions can be made. He also says this plan will be put into a federal bill after it goes through a second reading. For the first time, when Canada goes to the UN Climate Change conference in November, it will arrive with a set plan in place.
Trudeau says “As a major energy producer, it is tough to cut so deeply in Canada but climate science tells us we face an existential threat. This new ambition is to keep the earth below a 1.5 degree increase, and to leave for our children a working and more sustainable world.”
The over 720 megatons of greenhouse gases we produced in 2015 (and still today) is a lot of gas. It is 1,587,600,000,000 pounds of it, or as much as 120,000 fully loaded freight trains. http://praieiclimatecentre.ca
These new emissions targets were announced at a virtual climate summit of 40 leaders hosted by the USA, Joe Biden. The goal for most countries is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. China still plans to increase its emissions until 2030. Like Canada it is pricing carbon and renewables and promises to have net zero GHG emissions by 2060. If it is a competition, China is winning now in terms of jobs and volume with making wind turbines and solar panels and North America wants to compete in ‘saving the world’. In his 100 Day Speech Biden said “By addressing issues like green energy production, the US is staying competitive with the rest of the world.” Biden also said on Earth Day “There is a moral and economic imperative to act. It is a moment of peril and possibility. The USA is back. When I think of climate change I think of jobs”. His Build Back Better plan focuses on jobs especially in the hardest hit areas of the country.
Overseas Boris Johnson calls Biden’s plan ‘a game changer’. The UK itself is also promising 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035. The UK Prime Minister says ‘We are the Saudi Arabia of wind’. Johnson says the change he envisions includes eating differently, making air travel more expensive for frequent flyers, increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road and improving house insulation. He also states “This is not about what we are going to give up or about ‘bunny hugging’, this is about growth and jobs. We can build back better by building back greener”. The UN Climate Change Conference in 2026 will be in UK.
Japan, South Korea, India and Europe also pledged on Earth Day 2021 to set more ambitious targets.
Canada’s Progress Since Paris Accord 2015
Canada has great ambition and sees itself as a role model for climate action, but is still mostly in the planning phase of change. Canada is moving in the right direction in some sectors, but it needs to pick up speed.
Utilities Sector In Canada Making Progress
“Emissions in 2019 were lower than 2005 emissions, with a decrease of 8.5 Mt CO2 eq or 1.1%. Emissions from public electricity and heat production by utilities showed a large decrease in emissions, 56 Mt CO2 eq. or 45%, and was a contributor to the emissions reduction.” (Canadian government website – https://bit.ly/2S7hJKx)
Transportation Sector In Canada Needs Change
“While vehicles have become much more efficient, transportation GHG emissions have increased 27% from 2000 to 2018. Emissions from passenger light trucks and freight trucks have continued to rise due to an increased number of vehicles (especially light trucks and SUVs). Freight emissions have increased due to many factors including increasing trade and globalization, and online shopping.” So our transportation sector is moving in the wrong direction.
“To ensure continued uptake in EVs, the federal government is undertaking a series of measures. It includes a $300 million investment in the creation of a new federal purchase incentive to buy zero-emission vehicles, a $130 million investment in new zero-emission vehicle infrastructure deployment, and a $5 million fund to work with automakers to secure ZEV sale targets.” (NRC – https://bit.ly/2SezKH1)
As individuals and a society we are driving the market for larger vehicles and online shopping. That means as individuals we can also can make different personal choices to affect this vehicle growth sector, even if it means driving the car you own less, and walking, riding a bike or using public transit. The growth in online shopping, especially during the pandemic has created greater freight emissions, and packaging, so we are also reminded to shop local as much as possible. It is disturbing that when ordering online from Lulu Lemon or Walmart or anywhere, that if you purchase more than one item they often arrive separately. Collectively, we can decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, it is not just the government’s responsibility.
One thing for sure the leaders of the world have decided this April-there will be significant changes in how the world operates over the next 8 1/2 years! It is wonderful that goals are being set for 2030, and not just for 2050. Time is of the essence. We love our planet. We want our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to see it thriving and green and blue with an abundance of fresh air, nature, trees, and wildlife.