Canada carbon emissions projected to 2020 and 2030 (Mt CO2 eq). Graphic: Environment and Climate Change Canada

[Canada must shut down the Athabasca oil sand mines to have any hope of meeting its commitment. “Emissions from oil and gas are projected to increase by 28% (from 159 Mt to 204 Mt) over the 2005 to 2020 time frame. This is due mainly to increases in oil sands production.” See Projected Emissions Trends for details. –Des]

By Justin Ling
1 February 2016

(Vox) – In statistics released on Friday evening — a prime time to break bad news — the Canadian government admitted that it was way off its already modest CO2 emission targets.

The numbers show that years of environmental efforts in Canada essentially had no impact.

The projection, released by Environment and Climate Change Canada, shows that Canada is expected to pump out the equivalent of 768 megatons of CO2 by 2020, and 815 megatons by 2030. Those projections also do not include emissions from the forestry sector.

That's nowhere near the targets Canada set for itself at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009. There, Ottawa pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions by 17 percent over 2005 levels by 2020.

Instead, Canada will likely increase its CO2 emissions by roughly two percent. The numbers say that increase may be as high as five percent.

The projections for 2030 are even further off. Canada pledged to reduce its emissions by 30 percent. Instead, it's on track to to increase those emissions by nearly 17 percent.

In a clear indictment of Ottawa's ineffective environmental initiatives, the numbers released Friday are actually higher than projections from 2012 and 2013.

"We're getting results," former Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said of the 2013 projections at the time.

Canada's new minister of the environment and climate change Catherine McKenna conceded that the numbers were not good.

"The data are clear and confirm that more needs to be done," reads a statement from McKenna.

McKenna's office turned down an interview request on the numbers. [more]

Canada Admits There’s No Chance It’ll Reach Its Climate Change Targets — Not Even Close

Measuring Canada’s Progress on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Under the Copenhagen Accord, Canada committed to reducing its emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.1 As economy-wide emissions in 2005 were 736 Mt, Canada’s implied Copenhagen target is 611 Mt in 2020.

Assessing progress in reducing GHG emissions is best done by comparing a “with measures” scenario against a “without measures” scenario that acts as a baseline where consumers, businesses and governments take no action to reduce emissions after 2005, Canada’s base year for its Copenhagen commitment. This is the most appropriate approach, given Canada’s growing economy, as it more accurately captures the real and verifiable level of effort that will be required to reduce emissions. Progress cannot be adequately measured by comparing expected future emissions against current levels, as this would not take into account factors such as the expected population and economic growth that will affect emissions between now and 2020.

Projections presented in this report under the “with current measures” scenario include actions taken by governments, consumers and businesses up to 2012 as well as the future impacts of policies and measures that were announced or put in place as of May 2014. This scenario does not include further government action and policies that are proposed or planned but not implemented. (The policies and measures modeled in this report are listed in Annex 2.)

The analysis indicates that, in a scenario where consumers, businesses and governments take no action to reduce emissions after 2005, emissions in 2020 will rise to 857 Mt. Under the “with current measures” scenario that includes actions since 2005 as well as the contribution from Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), Canada’s GHG emissions in 2020 are projected to be 727 Mt, a total of 130 Mt less than under a “without measures” scenario. This highlights the significant expected impacts of actions made to date but also indicates the need for further efforts from all Canadians, as additional reductions of 116 Mt will be required to meet Canada’s Copenhagen commitment (see Figure ES-1).

In a Spring 2012 submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Canada stated its intent to include the LULUCF sector in its accounting of GHG emissions towards its 2020 target, noting that emissions and related removals resulting from natural disturbances would be excluded from the accounting. It was also indicated at that time that a Reference Level or comparison against a 2005 baseline would be used for accounting. Based on these accounting approaches, the expected LULUCF contribution is 19 Mt, largely reflecting lower expected harvesting of trees in forest lands than in the past. This 19 Mt contribution is subtracted from total national emissions projections in 2020 as a credit towards reaching the target. Analysis of alternative accounting approaches remains ongoing.

Progress on Canada's 2020 Target for carbon reduction (Mt CO2 eq). This figure presents two lines on a graph spanning the years 1990-2020. The top line shows that, without action from governments, consumers and businesses since 2005, emissions in 2020 are projected to be 857 Mt. This is the 'Without Measures' line. The bottom line shows projected emissions, taking into account all current measures since 2005 and Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) contributions since 2012, where emissions are expected to reach 727 Mt in 2020. This is the 'With Current Measures' line. Below this value is a dot at 611 Mt, which represents Canada's Copenhagen target level of emissions in 2020 (17% below 2005 levels). Graphic: Environment and Climate Change Canada

The gap between the ‘Without Measures’ level of GHG emissions in 2020 (857 Mt) and the 611 Mt target now has been closed by 130 Mt. Upcoming federal policies, along with further provincial measures and actions from consumers and businesses, will contribute to the additional 116 Mt required for Canada to meet its commitments under the Copenhagen Accord.

Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections

As shown in Table ES-1, under a scenario that includes current measures and the contribution from LULUCF, absolute emissions are projected to be 727 Mt in 2020, 1.2% below 2005 levels.  Emissions from the oil and gas and buildings sectors are expected to increase, while emissions in the electricity sector are projected to decrease between 2005 and 2020. Emissions in the transportation, emissions-intensive and trade-exposed, agriculture, and waste and others sectors remain close to 2005 levels.

Table ES-1: Change in GHG Emissions by Economic Sector (Mt CO2 eq)

  2005 2012 2020 Change
2005 to 2020
Transportation 168 165 167 -1
Oil and Gas 159 173 204 45
Electricity 121 86 71 -50
Buildings 84 80 98 14
Emissions-intensive and Trade-exposed Industries 89 78 90 1
Agriculture 68 69 70 2
Waste and Others 47 47 46 -1
Expected LULUCF Contribution - - -19 -
Total with LULUCF Contribution 736 699 727 -9

Although emissions are projected to decrease by 9 Mt between 2005 and 2020 when the contribution of LULUCF is included, GDP is expected to increase by 32% over the same period, demonstrating that economic growth and emissions growth are continuing to decouple. In addition, as population is projected to increase, per capita emissions are expected to fall to 19.7 tonnes of CO2 eq per person in Canada in 2020, a decrease of 14% from 2005 levels.

GHG emissions projections depend on a number of economic and energy variables and are subject to significant uncertainty, especially in the longer term. Modeling estimates are subject to consultations with various industry associations, other federal departments and provincial/territorial governments. Modeling assumptions also undergo a periodic peer review process. Updates to key historical and projected energy data and drivers as well as the evolution of technology and demographics will alter the future emissions pathway.

To address the uncertainty inherent in projections, alternative scenarios that reflect different assumptions about oil and natural gas prices and production as well as different rates of economic growth have been developed. The greatest emissions are projected under a scenario aligned to the National Energy Board’s high oil and gas prices with higher-than-average annual growth in GDP between 2012 and 2020 (2.7% compared with 2.2% in the reference scenario). Alternatively, the lowest emissions scenario includes slower GDP growth (average growth of 1.5% between 2012 and 2020) and the National Energy Board’s low world oil and gas prices.

As shown in Figure ES-2, these scenarios suggest that the expected range of emissions in 2020 could be between 716 Mt in the lowest emissions scenario and 781 Mt in the highest emissions scenario, not including contributions for LULUCF. This 65 Mt range will continue to change over time with further government actions, technological change, economic conditions and developments in energy markets.

Range of Canada's Projected GHG Emissions (excluding Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry), showing three lines spanning the years 2012-2020 in one-year increments on the horizontal axis. The vertical axis is Megatonnes of CO2e and spans the values 680 to 800 in twenty megatonne increments. All three lines begin at 699 Mt in 2012. From there the top line, representing the highest emissions scenario, peaks at 781 Mt in 2020. The middle line, representing the reference scenario, peaks at 746 Mt in 2020. The lowest line represents the lowest emissions scenario and it peaks at 716 Mt in 2020. Graphic: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Oil and Gas

Emissions from oil and gas are projected to increase by 28% (from 159 Mt to 204 Mt) over the 2005 to 2020 time frame. This is due mainly to increases in oil sands production. […]

Emissions projections in the oil and gas sector are based on the National Energy Board’s assumptions of oil and natural gas prices as well as estimates of anticipated production. Under these assumptions, emissions from upstream oil and gas production are estimated to grow from 135 Mt in 2005 to 181 Mt in 2020. This increase is driven by the growth in oil sands production, where emissions are expected to increase from 34 Mt in 2005 to about 103 Mt by 2020. Specifically, emissions from oil sands mining are projected to more than double over the 2005 to 2020 time period. Even more significantly, emissions from in situ production are expected to increase from 11 Mt in 2005 to 53 Mt in 2020. The emissions associated with the upgrading of oil-sands bitumen are expected to rise from 13 Mt in 2005 to 27 Mt by 2020. [more]

Canada's Emission Trends 2014



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