EDITORIAL: PM’s climate pledge just more hot air

Three months away from failing to meet his 2020 target for reducing Canada’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) linked to climate change, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising to exceed his 2030 target.

Liberal governments have been doing this going back to Jean Chretien, who ran in the 1993 federal election promising to reduce Canada’s emissions to 20% below 1988 levels by 2005.

In 2005, after 12 years of government, the Liberals missed Chretien’s target by 260 Megatonnes (Mt) of GHG emissions, or by 55%.

In today terms, that’s more than the combined annual emissions of Canada’s oil and gas sector (193 Mt) and electricity sector (64 Mt).

In 1998, Chretien signed the Kyoto accord to reduce Canada’s emissions to an average of 6% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

When the Liberals lost power to the Stephen Harper Conservatives in 2006, they were 154 Mt, or 27%, behind their Kyoto target.

In 2007, former Chretien aide Eddie Goldenberg acknowledged the Liberals knew when they signed the deal, they would probably fail to achieve it.

Trudeau is now on the verge of missing his 2020 target — 17% below Canada’s 2005 emissions.

With three months to go in 2020, Canada’s emissions are 729 Mt (for 2018, the last year for which figures are available), meaning Trudeau is poised to miss his 2020 target by 123 Mt or 20%.

He’s behind his 2030 target — 30% below Canada’s 2005 emissions — by 218 Mt or 43%.

Even the government’s own studies say it will fall short of Trudeau’s 2030 target by 77 Mt, or 15%, even if all of its plans — some not even started — work.

Now Trudeau claims he’ll exceed his 2030 target he is nowhere near meeting.

It’s the same for Conservative governments going back to 1988.

That’s when then prime minister Brian Mulroney promised to reduce emissions to 20% below 1988 levels by 2005, which Chretien later revived as his target,just as Trudeau’s 2020 and 2030 targets used to be Harper’s.

That’s Canada’s real climate strategy, no matter which party is in power — announce unrealistic targets, fail to achieve them, announce new targets, fail to achieve those.

The only reason Canada’s emissions are dropping right now is due to the recession caused by COVID-19.

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