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Canada's emissions reduction plan falling short: environment commissioner

More than 80 policies and programs are listed in the plan, but commissioner says fewer than half of them have a timetable for implementation
A BC Transit bus stops at the legislature in Victoria. Canada's federal environment commissioner says the country's greenhouse-gas emissions targets are coming up short.| Darren Stone, Times Colonist

Canada's detailed plan to reach its greenhouse-gas emissions targets in 2030 is coming up short, the federal environment commissioner said Tuesday in a new audit.

Jerry DeMarco did a deep dive into the government's Emissions Reduction Plan as part of a series of fall audits tabled in the House of Commons.

The plan was published last year and is a requirement under the federal net-zero accountability law passed in 2021. It is supposed to lay out a road map for Canada to hit its emissions targets, including the next big one in 2030.

DeMarco said Canada has never met any of its previous emissions targets, and this plan still has the country coming up several million tonnes short of hitting the next target in 2030.

That target would require Canada to cut its emissions to 40 to 45 per cent less than they were in 2005. To achieve that goal, Canada would need to cut its current emissions by about one-third before the end of 2030.

DeMarco found the measures in the Emissions Reduction Plan would only reduce current levels by about one-quarter by then.

More than 80 policies and programs are listed in the plan, but DeMarco said fewer than half of them have a timetable for implementation, and only four have a specific target for cutting emissions.

He also said the federal government set its goals with overly optimistic expectations for how quickly some of its major policies would be implemented, and without taking into account the impact that climate change would have in the meantime.

For example, DeMarco said the government's modelling assumed there would be no new natural gas electricity plants without carbon-capture technology after 2023, because clean electricity regulations barring them would be in place.

But to date, those regulations have only been published in draft form, DeMarco said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2023.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press