Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna listens to a question during a press conference on the government’s environmental and regulatory reviews related to major projects, in the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada will meet climate targets despite emissions gap: Environment minister

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says “we’re absolutely committed to meeting our target.”

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says Canada is committed to meeting its climate change targets despite a growing gap between promises and emissions projections.

“We’re absolutely committed to meeting our target,” McKenna, in Edmonton for an international conference on cities and climate change, told The Canadian Press.

“We’re all in.”

In 2015, Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 722 megatonnes annually of carbon dioxide equivalent. The Paris climate accord commits the country to reducing that total to 517 megatonnes by 2030.

In December, the government delivered a report to the United Nations outlining progress on reaching that target. The report acknowledged that both current and planned policies are likely to leave the country 66 megatonnes short of its target.

Related: Environment minister confronts Rebel reporter about ‘climate Barbie’ name

That figure is 50 per cent higher than a similar report made to the UN 18 months ago.

“It’s a good-news, bad-news story,” said McKenna.

“Our economy is growing and our projections are based on our economic growth. It just means that we need to be doing more. There’s huge opportunities that we haven’t built into our target.”

McKenna said Canada has plenty of time to catch up to where it’s supposed to be.

“It’s a 2030 target,” she said. “We’ve said this is a transition and you don’t transition overnight.”

Billions of dollars marked for public transportation in the last federal budgets will help, she said.

New technologies for carbon-heavy industries such as cement manufacturing are expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions and aren’t yet figured into the projection. The federal government is also counting on reforestation to reduce Canada’s carbon footprint, because growing trees pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in forests.

“We need to figure out the opportunities. We know that they’re huge.”

Environment Canada officials have attributed the 22-megatonne increase between the two UN reports to a growing population and increased output from Canada’s oil and gas industry. The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, approved by the federal Liberals to take hydrocarbons from Alberta’s oilsands to the British Columbia coast, is widely expected to increase associated emissions.

Related: New energy projects must be approved within two years: Ottawa

McKenna said that has been taken into account.

“The approval of (the Kinder Morgan pipeline) was made in the context of our climate plan,” she said.

The minister pointed out that Alberta has capped emissions from the oilsands and implemented a carbon tax. Ottawa will bring in its own climate levy, she said.

“We’re doing a lot. There’s coherence across the board.”

A department official pointed out that a 22-megatonne change in the overall context of Canada’s total emissions could simply be the result of annual changes in the economy or in how things are measured.

As well, cities and provinces haven’t yet outlined their plans for investments in transit or reforestation clearly enough for Ottawa to estimate their greenhouse gas impacts, the official said.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Saturday was devoted to the arts in Langley City

The 25th annual Arts Alive festival took over a main thoroughfare.

Arena opens at Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre

Grand procession brings Aldergrove ice arena users to new facility

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

VIDEO: Tire recycling at Kal Tire

All tires will be recycled back into products to be used in British Columbia

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Most Read