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.

Just Posted

AESS senior girls eyeing spot in basketball provincials

The team needs to move up one more ranking get a place in the championships

Agassiz man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Chilliwack Chief Harrison Blaisdell climbs Central Scouting Bureau rankings

The 17 year old forward is now drawing a second round grade as CSB releases its mid-term list.

Classical paired with folk for Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra’s winter concert

Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky in America at G.W. Graham theatre

Community artists, amateurs wanted to create Kent anniversary logo

The 125th anniversary committee is hoping to choose a logo designed by the community

VIDEO: Harrison sailor looking for competitors to race model boats

Bernhard Van Velze is hoping to create a club for model sailboats at Harrison Lake

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

South Surrey mother didn’t have the intent to kill her daughter: defence

Closing submissions in case of Lisa Batstone underway

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

VIDEO: 11-year-old violinist practices for Vancouver Symphony Orchestra debut

Cloverdale student Da-Wei Chan will perform Jan. 31, Feb. 28 with the VSO

Most Read