A dump truck works near the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near the city of Fort McMurray, Alta., on June 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

A dump truck works near the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near the city of Fort McMurray, Alta., on June 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canada needs to cut its emissions almost in half: UN

In order to stop catastrophic climate change Canada needs to cut emissions

Canada would have to cut its emissions almost in half over the next 12 years to meet the stiffer targets dozens of international climate change experts say is required to prevent catastrophic results from global warming.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there will be irreversible changes and the entire loss of some ecosystems if the world doesn’t take immediate and intensive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions far more than is occurring now.

That means trying to limit the increase in the average global ground temperature to 1.5 C, rather than 2 C as specified in the Paris climate change accord. At 2 C,everything from melting sea ice to droughts, famines and floods will be significantly worse than at 1.5 C, the report says.

RELATED: No change to Canada’s climate plans as UN report warns of losing battle

If people don’t act now, the report says, we will hit 1.5 C somewhere between 2030 and 2052. To prevent that the world has to cut the amount of emissions released each year by 2030, so they are no more than 55 per cent of what they were in 2010. For Canada, that means emissions would need to fall to a maximum of 385 million tonnes a year.

In 2016 they were almost twice that, and the Canadian government’s current aim is to only cut to about 512 million tonnes a year. Even that more modest goal is out of reach for now despite plans such as the controversial national carbon price, making buildings more energy efficient and eliminating coal as a source of electricity by 2030.

“It’s clear that the consequences of acting slowly are devastating for the planet and our way of life,” said Merran Smith, executive director of the group Clean Energy Canada.

She said Canadians do not need to change what they do to cut emissions, but rather need to change how they do it. That means, she said, electrifying everything.

The report comes as Canada is embroiled in a new round of political arguments about the best way to proceed, with the federal Liberals’ planned national price on carbon being challenged by a growing number of provincial governments.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna believes the report is another wake-up call that underscores why her government is pricing carbon and introducing regulations for the country’s biggest emitters.

“If we don’t act, a 10-year-old child today will live in a world with grave food shortages, devastating wildfires, brutal storms and flooding — before they are 40 years old,” she said.

Yet McKenna has also said Canada has no plan to increase its current goals and her government has approved new fossil fuel projects, including the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and last week’s $40-billion liquefied natural gas plant in British Columbia, which will increase emissions from the energy sector.

Canada believes getting LNG on ships bound for Asia will help countries like China convert coal plants to gas, which produces about half as many emissions when burned to make electricity. The government also argues the transition to cleaner fuels won’t happen overnight and using Canadian resources to help fund the transition is a good move.

Dale Marshall, national program manager at Environmental Defence, said the ongoing political fight over carbon pricing and criticism of Liberal energy policies is scaring the government into being more timid about its climate plan, while the report shows being timid is not going to cut it.

“Parties and governments that actually understand the science and believe in action need to be more courageous than they’re being,” he said.

NDP environment critic Alexandre Boulerice said it is time for the Liberals to hit the reset button on their climate plan and come up with something stronger. “I want the plan to succeed but the plan is not ambitious enough and right now we’re seeing that it’s going nowhere.”

RELATED: UN report on global warming carries life-or-death warning

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who is on a trip to India touting new infrastructure to ship more oil and gas overseas, said he will leave the findings of the IPCC report to the scientists. But Scheer said his party remains adamantly opposed to a carbon tax, which he does not think will actually reduce emissions, and instead revert back to the regulatory approach taken by the former Conservative government.

“When it comes to public policy as to how to address environmental challenges, the Conservative Party is on the right track,” he said.

The only regulations introduced by the former government involved coal-fired power plants. Scheer says a full climate plan will be released in advance of the general election next year.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glass of whiskey
UBCO substance use clinic goes virtual

The clinic is adapting the way it provides services as the pandemic continues

Loud beats reverberate through the room as Total Fitness Zumba class participants follow along to the instructor’s moves during a drop-in fundraiser for the Shannon Sharp Learning Circle to be constructed at Salmon Arm West School. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
City-run fitness classes paused in Vernon

Greater Vernon Recreation Services pauses play in wake of province’s new health orders

Welcome Lars, the elf. Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation's newest representative for the Light a Bulb campaign. (Contributed)
Vernon hospital welcomes new elf for Light a Bulb campaign

The passing of candy cane from elf-to-elf warrants a colouring contest!

(Morning Star file photo)
Lumby bylaw complaints skyrocket in 2020

Bylaw officers have seen an 80 per cent increase in complaints over 2019, with two months yet to be recorded

Greater Vernon Water rates will increase an average of 2.4 per cent over the next four years after the Regional District of North Okanagan adopted a new water rate bylaw on Wednesday, Nov. 18. (File photo)
Regional District North Okanagan approves four-year water rate bylaw

Water rates for Greater Vernon Water users to climb an average of 2.4 per cent over the four years

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Dani Barker, originally from Salmon Arm, is working with others in the New York City film industry to bring a script she wrote to life as a feature film called Follow Her. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm woman’s movie thriller nearing completion, in need of backing

Dani Barker wrote and stars in Follow Her which wrapped filming in New York in February

Axel Hasenkox, owner of OP Office Products in Penticton, is fed up after his store was tagged by an unknown person Monday Nov. 23, 2020. (Jesse Day - Western News
Penticton business hit by ‘senseless’ vandalism

Business owner disheartened after store tagged

The Smethurst kids Kai and Julia went door to door over two days spreading to cheer and handing out 200 treat bags full of home cooked goodies for a random act of kindness on Nov. 22 and 23. (Facebook)
Penticton family hands out 200 treat bags to neighbours

The Smethursts are also making Christmas meals for anyone who needs it

Police have identified this woman accused of spitting on an employee at the Skaha Liquor Store on Sunday, Nov. 21. She also is seen on video purposely dropping his phone.
Unmasked woman who allegedly spat on a Penticton employee has been identified

Police say thanks to the public, they were able to identify her

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

Most Read