Canada set to miss CO2 emis­sions tar­get, UN says

Toronto Star - - CANADA - ALEX BALLINGALL OT­TAWA BU­REAU

A new re­port from the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram says global ef­forts to fight cli­mate change are not enough to meet tar­gets set out un­der the Paris Agree­ment, and sin­gles out Canada as one of the G20 coun­tries on track to miss its emis­sions goals for 2020 and 2030.

The ninth an­nual UN “Emis­sions Gap” re­port echoes last month’s from the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change, which is­sued its own re­port that called for ur­gent, never-be­fore-seen ac­tion if the world is to re­strict global warm­ing to just1.5 de­grees above prein­dus­trial tem­per­a­tures by the end of the cen­tury. The new re­port fo­cuses on the gap be­tween where emis­sions are headed and where they need to be to pre­vent the worst con­se­quences of cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tific ev­i­dence gath­ered by re­searchers around the world. It con­cludes this gap has “in­creased sig­nif- icantly” com­pared with re­cent es­ti­mates, and states that “un­prece­dented and ur­gent ac­tion is re­quired by all na­tions” be­fore 2030 if the goal is to be met.

Tak­ing aim at ac­tions taken by G20 coun­tries, the re­port notes in­dus­trial car­bon diox­ide emis­sions edged up in 2017 af­ter re­main­ing sta­ble for three years. To­tal global green­house gas emis­sions also hit a record high in 2017, the re­port says.

“Even if the na­tions of the world live up to their cur­rent com­mit­ments, that will likely re­sult in global warm­ing of around 3 C by the end of the cen­tury,” wrote Joyce Msuya, act­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the UN en­vi­ron­ment pro­gram, in the in­tro­duc­tion to the re­port.

“That’s a num­ber that would be cat­a­strophic — and fa­tal for many small is­land states and coastal ar­eas.”

But the re­port shows sev­eral of the world’s rich­est coun­tries are on track to miss even their cur­rent tar­gets, which are deemed to be in­ad­e­quate. Canada, which rep­re­sented 1.6 per cent of global emis­sions in 2017, is one of six G20 coun­tries that — short of en­dur­ing a “low growth eco­nomic sce­nario” — will likely miss its 2020 tar­get of re­duc­ing emis­sions to 17 per cent be­low the 2005 level, the re­port says.

And de­spite re­cent analy­ses that emis­sions over the com­ing 12 years could drop more than pre­vi­ously pro­jected, the re­port con­cludes Canada’s cur­rent poli­cies aren’t enough to meet its sub­se­quent tar­get of re­duc­ing emis­sions to 30 per cent be­low the 2005 level by 2030.

Robert O’Brien, a po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at McMaster Uni­ver­sity, said the re­port adds to ex­ist­ing ev­i­dence that more needs to be done to meet the tar­gets un­der the Paris Agree­ment. At a time when Cana­dian pol­i­tics fea­tures a de­bate over the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s plan to im­pose car­bon pric­ing against provin­cial re­sis­tance in On­tario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Man­i­toba, O’Brien said this re­port should get Cana­di­ans’ at­ten­tion.

NATHAN DENETTE THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

The an­nual UN “Emis­sions Gap” re­port said car­bon diox­ide emis­sions rose in 2017.

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