Conservative, Green, Liberal and NDP GHG Emissions Targets Compared (With Graph)

Some parties are taking the Paris climate negotiations seriously, others not so much.

Whomever forms the next Canadian federal government is going to have to hit the ground running on climate change. A new international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) will be struck only six weeks after the election. US President Barack Obama has readied the US. How prepared are Canada’s political parties for the coming negotiations?

Greenhouse gas reduction targets from parties, provinces, states and nations. Numbers are rounded to the nearest percent.
Greenhouse gas reduction targets from parties, provinces, states and nations. Numbers are rounded to the nearest percent.

A comparison of various greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets set by parties, provinces, states and nations is given in the image on left. Although a plan requires more than just targets, comparing goals allows us to understand who is in the game and who isn’t.

Leading the way are the European Union and California, both of whom expect to reduce emissions by 40% below 1990 levels come 2030. In Canada, the provinces of Quebec and Ontario stack up nicely with comparable pledges of 37.5% and 37%, respectively.

Next come two of Canada’s political parties. The Green and New Democratic parties are both proposing ambitious and respectable targets for Canada:

  • The Green Party proposes to reduce GHGs to 40% below 2005 levels by 2025, and 80% below by 2050. I interpolated these values to reach 48% below 2005 by 2030, and then used Canada’s GHG inventory to re-baseline the result to 1990.

  • The NDP proposes to reduce GHGs by 34% below 1990 levels by 2025/30 and 80% below by 2050. For the purposes of the comparison I have taken the target date for the initial phase as 2030. Add 2% to the NDP column for each year they come in under 2030.

The data show that the Green and NDP targets are broadly similar – 36.46% and 34% (or more) reductions by 2030, respectively – and are compatible with what the Canada’s two most populous provinces are planning. This is cause for considerable optimism. Note that national numbers might be expected to be short of what Quebec and Ontario plan because of continued emissions growth in Alberta’s oilsands.

Next is the US, with a plan to reduce their own GHGs by 26 − 28% from 2005 levels by 2025, and 80% by 2050. I took their average target for 2025, and then interpolated and re-baselined using the US inventory report. The result is a target of 27.2% below 1990 levels by 2030. I am reasonably favourable toward their starting position given that US emissions have declined since 2006.

Notice that the Green and NDP targets are half-way between the US and EU. This is another positive sign: Both parties have reasonable starting points for the negotiations in Paris.

Then we have the Conservative Party of Canada. Their target for Canada is woefully inadequate: a 14.46% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030 (re-baselined from 30% below 2005). This is not a serious starting position for the negotiations in Paris.

The Liberal Party of Canada has yet to make any proposals for GHG reductions. Their climate plan is rather thin, and I hope that they will be filling it out in the next few weeks. I will provide an update if more information comes available.