What a difference a year makes.

Last July, I wrote in Policy Options about how Canada intended to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below those in 2005 by 2030. I showed that Canadian emissions would need to decline about 11 megatonnes a year.

Since then, achieving the 2030 target has become more challenging.

First, in March, the federal government introduced a new 2030 reduction target of between 40 and 45 per cent below 2005 levels. This means that by 2030, Canada’s emissions must be between 445 and 408 megatonnes.

Second, in mid-April, Canada released its greenhouse gas emissions data, which showed actual national emissions were 672 megatonnes in 2020.

If the same method for determining national emissions is used with the actual 2020 data (i.e., including reductions caused by land-use and nature-based systems), emissions are about 35 megatonnes shy of the level originally expected by the federal government in 2020.

To meet the new emissions targets, Canada will need to reduce its emissions by at least 22 megatonnes a year between 2021 and 2030.

Significant declines in emissions have occurred in other countries, usually because of the impact of economic events, but none of the examples discussed in my article came close to reducing emissions by 22 megatonnes a year.

Larry Hughes, Dalhousie University April 25, 2022