August 8, 2012
Canada halfway home on global warming target
By David Akin, Parliamentary Bureau Chief
OTTAWA -- The federal government said Wednesday the country is halfway home in terms of meeting its own target to cut the emission of greenhouse gases by 2020.
But federal officials acknowledged the federal government will have to do more, mostly by slapping new regulations on Canada's oil and gas sector, if it is going to meet its international commitments to reduce the gases widely believed to cause climate change.
Even as the Harper government ripped up the Kyoto Protocol and its aggressive targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GGEs), it was signing on to a new document, the Copenhagen Accord, in which the Conservatives said Canada would cut its GGEs by 17% and do it by 2020.
"The Harper government has been working hard to reduce emissions and this has helped set the stage for the progress we've achieved this year," Environment Minister Peter Kent said in a statement.
The provinces, though, have done most of the heavy lifting so far to reduce GGEs.
Quebec, for example, introduced a so-called cap-and-trade system that limits the amount of GGEs each industrial sector can produce. In Nova Scotia, the NDP government of Darrell Dexter has introduced new regulations that reduce GGEs from electricity production.
Federal officials say the government's chief contribution to this point has been federal standards for fuel efficiency on cars and light trucks.
Kent also promised that new regulations for the oil and gas sector, likely to be introduced next year, would help Canada reach its 2020 target.
"I highly doubt it," NDP environment critic Megan Leslie said. "If their track record is any indication, I think actions speak louder than words and I don't have a whole lot of faith in what he's saying."