Although Canada’s output of greenhouse gases was almost unchanged in 2010 from 2009, the major oil producer will find it tough to meet its 2020 emissions-cut target, government figures signaled on Wednesday.
Conservative government officials hailed the data, which showed emissions in Canada rose by just 0.25 percent in 2010 from the year before, hitting 692 megatons. The economy grew by 3.2 percent in the same period.
Canada has committed to cutting emissions to 607 megatons by 2020, a goal that critics say will be very hard to meet due to big increases in production in the oil-rich tar sands of northern Alberta. Tar sands output generates more greenhouse gases than conventional oil production.
Green activists complain the right-of-center government is ignoring the environment to focus on the needs of the oil and gas industry, and they say Ottawa has yet to produce a strategy to curb output of the harmful gases that will allow it to reach its 2020 target.
“We are still well off course for meeting our emissions target, and without a national plan we’re likely to see Canada’s emissions continue to grow,” said P.J. Partington, a climate policy analyst at the Pembina Institute think tank.
“This challenge is especially true with the oil sands, where rapid expansion is projected to cancel out any progress being made elsewhere,” he told Reuters.
Production from Alberta’s tar sands is expected to nearly double to almost 4 million barrels per day by 2021.
Government officials said they were seeing good progress in the bid to reach the 2020 target – which represents a 17 percent reduction from 2005 emissions – but gave few details.