Canada Should Extend Practices that Reduced Energy Demand During COVID-19 Among Other Climate Mitigation Recommendations

Canada Should Extend Practices that Reduced Energy Demand During COVID-19 Among Other Climate Mitigation Recommendations

Policy Recommendation # 1: Extend Practices that Reduced Energy Demand During COVID-19

Policy Recommendation # 2: Steps to Increase the Emission Reduction Targets of HEAHE

Policy Recommendation # 3: Increase Accountability Measures for the Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act

In their latest Emissions Gap Report, UNEP tells us more countries are committing to net-zero emissions goals for 2050. These commitments must translate into strong short-term policies and be reflected in improved NDCs at COP26 in 2021.

In late 2018, IPCC scientists worldwide were advised to avoid a 1.5°C rise in global temperatures; doing so would require global emissions to be halved by 2030 and ultimately reach zero by 2050. Others say even more is needed. Sufficient time has passed that countries have the science, data, and solutions to make concrete plans. Canada is taking new steps towards meeting such targets with their new ‘A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy’ (HEAHE) plan announced December 11, 2020; it builds on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) to exceed Canada’s target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 projecting 32-40% reductions, and a foundation for net-zero emissions by 2050.

  1. The ‘Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change’ (PCF) policy, has been our climate strategy foundation to transition itself to a low-carbon future.
  2. PCF’s goal is to install the necessary policies, regulations and investment to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy to build on the momentum of the Paris Agreement.
  3. PCF is critical to Canada’s climate mitigation efforts as it has set into motion carbon pricing, accelerated coal phase-out, clean fuel, vehicle, transportation and building standards, methane regulations, new technologies, and was informed by what Canadians asked for.
  4. The Framework involved provinces and territories designing their own policies and programs to meet targets supported by federal monies for infrastructure, emissions-reduction opportunities and clean technologies, Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and engagement with businesses, non-profits and citizens, from across the country were a cornerstone of PCF implementation.
  5. Canada’s Fourth Biennial Report on Climate Change to the UNFCCC (2019) reported a baseline of 730 Mt in 2005, required a 30% reduction (219 Mt) to achieve 511 Mt CO2eq/year by 2030 (through additional measures such as public transit improvements, green infrastructure, clean technology and stored carbon). Canada uses a recognized energy and macroeconomic modeling framework to produce its emissions projections, published yearly.
  6. Short-term obstacles in reaching a 50% target by 2030 and now a net zero 2050 impact should include at least three considerations: a) the pandemic, b) progress of an increased 2030 ambition (for example, carbon pricing, regulatory measures, jobs, technology developments and pipeline constraints), and c) accountability.
    1. UNEP reports that, despite a brief dip in CO2 emissions caused by the pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century. Canada’s Energy Regulator assumed in 2020 that the acute effects of the pandemic will slowly dissipate over the next two to three years. Thus, Canada needs to examine now how actions to reduce spread of COVID-19 changing energy demand patterns such as travel restrictions, prevalently working from home, and the broader economic impact of the pandemic, can potentially continue.
    2. The HEAHE (still to be discussed with premiers, Indigenous leaders, and Canadians) advises it builds on existing progress to scale up climate action, Paris targets, binding five-year interval targets informed by experts and net zero emissions by 2050.

      We ask for a HEAHE workplan to reach a more ambitious target than the projected 32-40% (ideally to that of 50% by 2030) with more immediate action to: discontinue oil and gas infrastructure expansion and increased production; end fossil fuel subsidies (proposed by 2025); secure the footprint of shipping and aviation emissions; reassess Clean Fuel Standards to address liquid, gaseous, and solid fossil fuels; and to fast forward elimination of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector (proposed as 40-45% by 2025). Lastly, please build on emissions from pipelines to give a solid picture of the constraints of moving ahead (graphic, W. Bauer, Green Party Canada member).

      Carbon tax changes (newly announced) in provinces without their own emission plans will keep rising after 2022 up to $170 per tonne by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions by 32% by 2030. This is a good step, as carbon pricing has proven to be effective. Phasing out of coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 needs quicker action, and a proposed ‘Just Transition Act’ for coal workers also needs an equitable transition of other workforces impacted by new technology and change. Automation, the gig economy, and precarious global markets are all challenges Canadians face. HEAHE should set more actions for long-term reductions in heavy industry and agriculture and move forward high-speed rail.

    3. Lastly, the proposed Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, introduced in Parliament on November 19, 2020, to formalize net-zero emissions by 2050 with interim targets at 5-year milestones is important for accountability. We highly recommend this process also have 2025 measures to ensure 2030 targets and not leave accountability to future governments; and build in legal consequences if Canada does not reach its target rather than just finance reporting. Reports should have carbon budgets to align with the Paris Agreement enhanced transparency framework.

      We also need a PCF progress report from December 2016 up to 2021 to understand the links to HEAHE from this PCF graph, recognizing not only ‘have projected emissions changed, but historical emissions have also changed, with revisions going back to 2005, due to improvements and refinements to data sources and methodologies.


The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change


Mail: House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Tel: 1 613 995-1225

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Canada Country Manager Diane Szoller

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