Leg­is­la­tion to set five-year cli­mate tar­gets high­est pri­or­ity this fall, Wilkin­son says

Medicine Hat News - - NATION - MIA RABSON

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Jonathan Wilkin­son says he plans to move quickly this fall to set leg­is­lated tar­gets to cut Canada’s green­house gas emis­sions that go even fur­ther than what has al­ready been promised.

Wilkin­son told The Cana­dian Press in an in­ter­view this week that COVID-19 is a pri­or­ity but that Canada can­not take its eye off the ball when it comes to cli­mate change.

“While COVID is cer­tainly a threat to the health and safety of Cana­di­ans and to our eco­nomic re­cov­ery, the cri­sis that is cli­mate change, if left un­ad­dressed, will have im­pacts that are even more sig­nif­i­cant than COVID-19,” he said.

“We need to el­e­vate our level of am­bi­tion and our ur­gency with which we are ad­dress­ing the car­bon is­sue.”

The Lib­er­als promised dur­ing the 2019 elec­tion that they would be aim­ing to cut more green­house gas emis­sions by 2030 than was promised in the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, and will bring in a law to set five-year tar­gets for curb­ing emis­sions all the way to 2050, when the goal is to be at net zero.

That means Canada needs to curb its emis­sions dras­ti­cally over three decades and en­sure any green­house gases still be­ing pro­duced can be ab­sorbed rather than re­main in the at­mos­phere.

That leg­is­la­tion has never ma­te­ri­al­ized, and plans for it got de­layed by the pan­demic. So did many other facets of the Lib­er­als’ en­vi­ron­ment plat­form, from prom­ises to plant two bil­lion new trees to bring­ing in new stan­dards for cleaner-burn­ing fu­els.

In the spring, Wilkin­son was not sure when the new tar­get or en­force­ment leg­is­la­tion would come, but he said this week it is on the top of his to-do list.

“It is, from my per­spec­tive, the high­est pri­or­ity from a leg­isla­tive per­spec­tive for me as the min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate change,” he said. “We fully in­tend to move ahead with that once the house is back in ses­sion. I think you will see that cer­tainly within the com­ing few months.”

The gov­ern­ment was to have the new tar­gets in place in time for the an­nual meet­ing of the United Na­tions cli­mate con­fer­ence this fall, but the pan­demic put that event off by a year.

The leg­is­lated tar­gets are to be legally bind­ing, though it is not clear how they would be en­forced. The United King­dom has a sim­i­lar type of law.

Canada has set mul­ti­ple tar­gets for curb­ing emis­sions over the last three decades and has never met a sin­gle one of them, in­clud­ing the one that said by 2020, Canada would be emit­ting 17 per cent less than it was in 2005.

The most re­cent na­tional in­ven­tory re­port on green­house gas emis­sions, which is for 2018, shows Canada emit­ted al­most the same that year as it did in 2005, and will most likely miss the 2020 tar­get by more than 100 mil­lion tonnes, which is more than is emit­ted to heat and power the en­tire coun­try.

It also missed its 2012 tar­get un­der the Ky­oto ac­cord by more than 100 mil­lion tonnes.

With its cur­rent poli­cies, Canada will miss the Paris tar­get by more than 70 mil­lion tonnes in 2030.

Jonathan Wilkin­son

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