During 2017, Canada started to get its climate change act together, at least on paper. The Pan Canadian Framework (PCF) on Clean Growth and Climate Change rose out of thorny negotiations between the Federal government, the provinces and territories in December 2016. The PCF became the flagship of Canada’s climate plan even though two provinces — Saskatchewan and Manitoba — refused to sign on. Also, many questions remain about the government’s performance on climate. And what’s next on the climate agenda for 2018? But before going to 2018, let’s give Trudeau a grade on his 2017 climate report card. We at Below2°C give him a “D” for Dismal.
Trudeau Climate Report Card
Gap between climate talk and climate walk (CCPA)
In Missing The Mark, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reports on the federal government midterm performance in several broad policy areas. Under the environment and climate change category, CCPA rates the government on greenhouse gas emission reductions, pipelines, fossil fuel subsidies and the transition to a low carbon economy.
Image credit: Missing the Mark, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Excerpts from Missing the Mark
- Canada is not on track to meet its climate targets. To make matters worse, those targets, adopted under the previous Conservative government, are not ambitious enough for Canada to do its fair share in meeting the Paris Agreement goals.
- Policies such as the federal carbon pricing floor of $10 per tonne (rising to $50 per tonne by 2022) are far too weak to drive meaningful emission reductions.
- The government is actively supporting new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, such as bitumen pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, that will make it even harder for Canada to meet its emission targets…completely incompatible with Canada’s climate plans and targets. (Source:CCPA)
Canada has a long road ahead to bridge the gap between its climate rhetoric and its climate actions on the ground. The government needs to set new GHG emission reduction targets consistent with climate science and the global carbon budget. And the PCF (Pan-Canadian Framework) needs more teeth and climate ambition to support even Canada’s anemic climate targets. (Image from CCPA’s Missing the Mark).
The National Observer reports that the Canadian climate strategy is dogged by bad reviews. Both the UN and OECD have given Canada failing grades on climate progress. Angel Gurria, OECD Secretary-General, points out that Canada is well behind on its climate commitments. And the UN has called on Canada to step up, to do more.
“The truth is, Canada cannot yet meet its own arguably weak climate targets. The country plans to expand oil and gas production despite evidence that this is inconsistent with Paris goals,” says Tzeporah Berman, Canadian policy advisor on climate and energy issues.
In October, Auditor General Julie Gelfand — Canada’s environment watchdog – slammed the federal government for its lukewarm performance on climate. “The federal government needs to start doing the hard work to turn this latest broad framework [Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change] into tangible and measurable actions.” said Gelfand. She also knocked the Liberals “for failing on climate adaptation and readiness,” and for a “disconcerting lack of real results” on its commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
Canada a Laggard According to Emissions Gap Report 2017
The UN Environment’s latest emissions gap report provides a stark warning to all 197 signatories to the Paris Agreement.
Current state pledges cover no more than a third of the emission reductions needed, creating a dangerous gap.
While the UN report says that China, the European Union, India and Japan are on track to meet their 2020 pledges, Canada is one of the biggest laggards. Our targets are too weak and further lack the policy framework to even meet the bare-minimum goals.
Canada has pledged a 30 percent reduction in its emissions by 2030, an unlikely prospect based on current climate action strategies. And yet we fail to consider ratcheting up our targets or extending the carbon pricing strategy beyond 2022 when the price will reach $50 per tonne.
The overarching conclusions of the report are that there is an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced longer-term national ambition, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are to remain achievable — and that practical and cost-effective options are available to make this possible. ~ Emissions Gap Report 2017.
Forward to 2018
The year 2018 is unlikely to be much different as the Trudeau government continues to stumble over climate policy announcements. In a surprise statement in mid-December, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna backtracked on a national price on carbon by saying it will not be imposed for at least another year. It was widely understood that January 1, 2018 was indeed the proposed effective date.
Patrick Derochie, climate and energy program manager (Environmental Defence) told CBC, “There’s been a lot of positive talk from this government on climate action, but it’s time for them to get their hands dirty.” This is just another piece of climate rhetoric on the bumpy road to implementing the Pan-Canadian climate plan. And this follows other delays in federal methane and clean fuel standards.
This is solid evidence that 2018 climate report card will mirror Canada’s tepid climate performance of 2017. This government will attempt to keep Canadians asleep on the climate for another year and then spend election year 2019 boasting shamelessly about its climate accomplishments and its climate leadership on the global stage.
Trudeau has been engaged in a complex dance of supporting fossil fuel expansion while promoting both himself and Canada as climate leaders. But the PM’s climate star is starting to dim. He and his handlers would do well to remember that you can fool all Canadians some of the time and some Canadians all the time, but you cannot fool all Canadians all the time.
If Prime Minister Trudeau’s climate report card grade was based on talk and hollow rhetoric, he and his government would get a glowing “A”. But talk is cheap. And actions speak louder than words. His grade is “D” for DISMAL.