After rising again in 2021, Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will return to a downward trend, predicts the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, an assertion that Greenpeace Canada doubts, however. .
In an interview from Sapporo, Japan, Steven Guilbeault reacted on Sunday to the publication of the most recent National Inventory Report by Ottawa last Friday1.
According to the latter, GHG emissions have increased by 1.8% in the country compared to 2020 – an increase mainly attributable to the transport sector and the oil and gas extraction sector.
However, according to Steven Guilbeault, this is above all a correction compared to the pandemic period when Canada’s economy was idling.
Calling 2020 “an anomaly”, the minister prefers to take as a reference 2019, the last full year free of any health measures, and notes that Canada has recorded a decrease of 53 megatonnes (Mt) in its GHG emissions in comparison, or more than half of the annual GHGs emitted in Quebec.
“In 2021, compared to 2019, we are really on a trend where our emissions are decreasing,” he says, advancing with “his crystal ball” that 2022 would be anchored in the same trend. “What you see when you really scratch that inventory report is that the electricity sector is accelerating its decarbonization at breakneck speed.”
But “clearly, in the oil and gas business, that’s where you have to do the heavy lifting,” he said.
Head of Greenpeace Canada’s Climate-Energy campaign, Patrick Bonin, however, doubts Minister Guilbeault’s assertions that GHG emissions will decrease in Canada “in the short term”.
“We saw a rebound in 2021 and I doubt that rebound will be complete because in 2021 we still had periods of confinement, a pandemic rhythm of life which slowed down the economy,” he explains.
Patrick Bonin takes as an example the oil and gas sector, which has not drastically reduced its emissions, and the transport sector, where the arrival of electric vehicles is being done in dribs and drabs. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” he summed up a possible drop in GHG emissions in the National Inventory Report that Ottawa will release next year.
Internationally, the G7 countries failed to commit to a coal phase-out date in the electricity sector in particular, while Canada pushed to convince them to adopt the 2030. “We haven’t quite reached that goal,” commented Steven Guilbeault.
The G7 therefore recognized, as it did last year, that investments in natural gas “may be appropriate” to help some countries through the current energy crisis, while emphasizing the importance of a transition “clean” energy and the need to reduce gas demand.
In the end, the latter paints a mixed picture of this meeting with his counterparts in Sapporo. “Is that enough? No, that’s not enough. The latest IPCC report reminds us how much we need to step up the pace,” he insists.
“There is still a long way to go for national actions to align with the words of the G7, particularly on the energy transition, as many countries have recently approved new oil and gas infrastructure projects” , reacted the director of Climate Action Network Canada, Caroline Brouillette
Regarding plastic pollution, the G7 countries have promised to reduce it to zero by 2040, thanks in particular to the circular economy and the reduction or abandonment of disposable and non-recyclable plastics.
In this regard, Canada has great hopes in the “legally binding” international agreement that could be signed by the end of 2024, following negotiations undertaken within the framework of the general assembly of the United Nations for the Environment in February 2022.
Four negotiation sessions will be necessary to achieve this, says Steven Guilbeault, who would like to see one of them held in Canada.
Moreover, this commitment does not move Patrick Bonin, of Greenpeace Canada, who recalls that Canada was already aiming for 2030 to eliminate plastic pollution.
“You have to turn off the tap at the source, and for that, it takes a lot more objectives of filling, of reusing. The G7 aiming for 2040 is a step back from the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he explains.