In announcing Canada’s new 40-45% pledge at the Biden Climate Summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is “now on track to blow past our old target.” “Only bold climate policies lead to bold results,” he said, listing off some of the government’s green-friendly policies such as investments in public transit and clean energy, a ban on single-use plastics and a promise to plant two billion trees. Environment minister Jonathan Wilkinson called the new emissions target both “ambitious” and “attainable.”
Nevertheless, a recent report from Environment and Climate Change Canada showed that 2019 emissions were 730 Mt, compared to 728 Mt in 2018, a 0.2% increase. The 2005 emissions were 739 Mt, so the new 40-45% promise means a 2030 limit of 443 – 406 Mt.
Canada’s “Made in China” Climate Policy
Andrew Roman, a retired litigation lawyer with over 40 years of experience in human rights, constitutional, environmental and energy issues, argues that the main beneficiary of Canada’s climate policy is not the climate, but China. The faster Canada chases net-zero CO2 emissions the more it offshores its emissions, largely to China’s coal-fueled industrial empire. While the West focuses on reducing emissions down to “net-zero” China is rapidly building coal plants at home and in other countries in Asia and Africa. Under the Paris Agreement, China has committed only to “peak” its emissions by 2030 — at some unspecified level.
University of Manitoba Professor emeritus Vaclav Smil has shown that it typically takes a country 50-70 years for new sources of energy to surpass 25% of its energy use. Such transitions only happen when the new technology offers clear advantages of cost, effectiveness, and reliability over the old. Today Western governments plan to force such a transition in 30 years — without any new breakthrough in energy technology. In Prof. Smil’s opinion, the winners in the global economic competition will be the ones who reduce their emissions last. The “leaders” will be the losers.