At climate conference, Canada proposes shift to a ‘low-carbon future’

Canada’s latest climate plan, released on Friday, is aimed at eliminating oil, gas and coal use by about half by 2050, according to an analysis by Ecofiscal Commission, a tax-reform think tank founded by former Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin.

As the United States and the European Union negotiate on how to proceed in talks in Paris aimed at committing countries to a future of clean energy, Canada is looking to re-emerge as a world leader. Under the plan, Canada hopes to grow its economy by 50 per cent by 2050, even as it shifts to a “low-carbon future,” according to the report.

The plan would see Canada’s emissions decline by 62 per cent from their current levels and cut the rate of emissions growth in the country to half the world average, the report says. By comparison, Canada’s emissions have increased every year from 1990 to 2017, even as the rest of the world has seen emissions grow only one per cent in that time.

From January to November, Canada’s emissions were 6 per cent higher than the same period in 2017. The report, which is based on several government reports, calls on Ottawa to ramp up fuel taxes, slash energy subsidies, and work more closely with the provinces to combat greenhouse gas emissions. The plan will rely heavily on Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, which have all shown signs of being willing to work with Ottawa on climate policies, while federal-provincial relations remain a central issue in negotiations over a new NAFTA trade agreement.

The report was released on the same day that negotiators representing many of the most advanced countries of the world — including Canada — wrapped up the first major round of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland, which focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and marked the 150th anniversary of the international climate treaty designed to cut emissions after the Second World War.

While Canada has taken several steps in recent years to curb emissions, critics say that the federal government’s climate targets for 2030, developed in 2015 and recently updated with the provincial targets, are too weak to spur broader action across the country. As Ecofiscal commission’s report pointed out, Canada must build on its work to move to a low-carbon future, before the economy is flooded with low-cost coal.

“It is Canada’s performance over the last 15 years that has not yet prepared us for a post-fossil-fuel era,” said Tom Adams, president of Ecofiscal Commission. “As Canada contemplates a low-carbon future, we can’t afford to fall behind again.”

Read the full report here.


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