One of Stephen Harper’s enduring legacies will be his government’s perpetual climate charade. Canada has long been challenged by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To illustrate the gap between our actions and words, I put together this graph.
As shown, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions rose dramatically from 1990 through 2007. Emissions briefly declined owing to the global recession, but are now expected to rise through 2020 because of growth in the oilsands sector. These data are from the government’s own Emissions Trends 2014.
Our targets are being missed by a wide margin, a problem that spans multiple majority and minority governments. The Kyoto commitment was made by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien, and the Copenhagen commitment was made by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. The 2030 commitment is what the Harper government submitted to the UN in advance of December’s Paris conference on climate change.
Why aren’t we meeting our commitments? The main problem is the gap between targets and policies. Any fool can announce a target. Designing and implementing policies to meet them is another matter entirely.