Kent says targets will not be set to protect jobs
The federal government is estimating that annual greenhouse gas emissions from Canada in 2020 will be 19-per-cent higher than Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s international climate change commitment – an improvement on its estimates from a year ago.
The new estimates from Environment Canada were based on existing federal policies and could change depending on whether the government delivers regulations to add to its existing efforts to address pollution, including emerging standards for vehicles and electricity generation.
At a news conference Wednesday, Environment Minister Peter Kent said that he will not set a target to cap pollution from the country’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases – oilsands development – because the government wants to protect jobs and growth.
Kent said the government’s approach to tackling the pollution that traps heat in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming centres on setting performance goals based on what is technologically feasible in all sectors, without harming the Canadian economy.
“We haven’t, in any of our sectors, set megatonnage (or) precise targets,” Kent said as his department released its latest assessment of greenhouse gas pollution trends in the country. “What we’ve done is set best performance standards.”
Environment Canada’s previous estimates, from 2011, projected the country’s annual emissions would be 29 per cent above Harper’s 2020 target, set under the 2009 Copenhagen climate change agreement.
Its new report said that gap was shrinking partly due to accounting changes that factor in the use of forests and cropland as either sources or sinks to store emissions. It also suggested that provincial policies such as Quebec’s cap-and-trade system, which sets limits on pollution and allows companies to buy and sell credits at a market price to meet their targets through projects that reduce pollution, were moving Canada closer toward Harper’s goal.