Canada massively fails to meet Copenhagen targets, calls it 'progress'

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Canada's carbon emissions in 2020 will be 20 per cent higher than Harper government's promised reductions under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. More importantly, Canada's emissions will be 66 per cent to 107 per cent higher than what's actually required to do its share in meeting the 2C global warming target a new Environment Canada report revealed.

That is "significant progress" the report says without irony.

"We're getting results," claimed Environment Minister Leona Agglukaq when asked about the clear failure to meet the Copenhagen target in the House of Commons Thursday. This is a target Canada was more than half way to meeting the former Environment Minister Peter Kent claimed more than a year ago.

"The only real action on climate is increased PR by the Harper government," said John Bennett of the Sierra Club of Canada.

"While the rest of the world is trying to solve the climate crisis, this government is only interested in protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industry," Bennett told DeSmog Canada.

Survey after survey shows that Canadians overwhelmingly want action on climate but are misled by the government's propaganda that something is being done he said.

The official Environment Canada emissions report shows the country's 1990 emissions were about 590 million tons. (Caveat: Canada has likely been under-reporting its emissions according to an international investigation.) 1990 is the scientific and United Nations baseline year against which emission reductions are measured. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada agreed to reduce its emissions by 6 per cent to 554 million tons (Mt) by 2012.

Actual emissions in 2011 were 24 per cent higher than 1990.

In 2011 Canada became the first country in the world to renege on an international climate treaty.

Growth of the tar sands and natural gas sectors, almost all for export, will push Canada's emissions to 734 Mt in 2020. That number should be a lot higher if not for major reductions by cities and provinces, including Ontario closing all of its coal-fired power plants by 2014. 

Scientists estimate that developed countries need to reduce their net carbon emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 to have a good chance of keeping global warming to no more than 2C. No one considers 2C a safe level of warming.

For Canada to do its fair share, emissions in 2020 should be between 354 and 472 Mt. Instead, Canadian emissions will be 66-107 per cent higher based on the Environment Canada's 2020 estimate.

"Climate Change is a global problem that requires a global solution. Canada, like the European Union, takes its commitments seriously and is doing its part," said Peter Kent, Environment Minister in a March 20, 2013 speech.

In 2012 the European Union reduced its emissions 18 per cent from 1990 and will exceed 20 per cent by 2020.

"Politicians are simply not telling the truth. You can't keep expanding the tar sands and meet the reduction target," Mark Jaccard an energy economist at Simon Fraser University previously told DeSmog.

Canada's obvious duplicity on the climate file is widely known at international levels. Will Canadians continue to allow government ministers to say '1+1 = 5'?

This article was first published on DeSmog Canada.

Stephen Leahy is the senior science and environment correspondent at Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) based in Rome and Montevideo. To continue this work at a time of severe cutbacks and closure of many media, Leahy launched Community Supported Journalism.

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