The climate plan is “credible”, say environmentalists while issuing caveats

Nature Quebec bluntly believes that Ottawa is giving a “free pass” to the oil and gas industry even if it generally welcomes the unveiled plan. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Ottawa — The plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions presented by the Trudeau government on Tuesday is hailed by environmental groups, who describe it as “credible” and “ambitious” but with reservations.

For Équiterre, it is “a complete plan within the limits of the current target”, the organization noting that this is the first time that all sectors are taken into consideration in the calculation.

“We will see if the financing, the regulations and the political will will follow,” said in a press release its director of government relations, Marc-André Viau.

Équiterre deplored that the roadmap put forward is designed to achieve only the bottom of the GHG emissions reduction range set for 2030 by Canada, i.e. a reduction of 40% to 45% compared to the levels of 2005.

To consult the federal government’s plan: Climate plan: oil companies will have to reduce their emissions by 42% by 2030

“We want to say ‘finally’ because it’s the first time we’ve had such a detailed strategy in our hands to achieve the goal we’ve set ourselves. On the other hand, if we want to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the next step now consists in raising the current target,” added Mr. Viau.

Same story on the side of the Suzuki Foundation, which identifies this element as one of the “main shortcomings” of the plan. The environmental group also criticizes the fact that the potential reduction for the oil and gas sector is only set at 31% by 2030, “well below the 40 to 60% that analyzes show as being achievable”.

In its plan, the Trudeau government defines the 31% as “a projection of the sector’s contribution (which) will serve as a guide for the Government of Canada’s work with industry, stakeholders, provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples and other groups to define and develop the cap for emissions from the oil and gas sector”.

Nature Quebec bluntly believes that Ottawa is giving a “free pass” to the oil and gas industry even if it generally welcomes the unveiled plan.

“(This sector) will not have to contribute as much as other sectors to achieving our reduction target for 2030. It is the other sectors that will have to make colossal efforts to compensate for Ottawa’s stubbornness not to impose a reduction in the production of oil and gas”, reacted the director general, Alice-Anne Simard, by press release.

Several environmental groups also believe that the government is betting too much on carbon capture and storage, noting that the technology has not yielded the expected results so far.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) reacted by saying the plan “recognizes” that there will be global demand for natural gas and oil “for decades to come and that Canada has a role to player”.

“One of the most important contributions Canada can make to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions is to export liquefied natural gas that will replace the use of coal,” wrote Executive Vice President Terry Abel, in a statement.

Unanimous dissatisfaction in the Commons

In the Commons, the opposition parties were quick to tear to pieces the roadmap presented by the Liberals.

Green Party MP Elizabeth May likened it to homework “really well done visually.” She particularly lamented the fact that Ottawa is sticking to emissions intensity reduction projections for the oil and gas industry rather than a reduction in production at the source.

“There’s nothing here that says if you’re in the oil and gas business you’re really going to have to cut your emissions,” she said.

The Conservatives have raised concerns about the costs associated with the plan, recalling the history of climate targets not being met in recent years.

“Since 2016, GHG emissions have been increasing despite the billions of dollars that have been injected by the federal government to try to achieve these targets,” said Deputy Chief Luc Berthold.

During Question Period, he accused the Liberals of abandoning Canada’s European allies as they suffered the backlash over energy supplies and sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine.

New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the plan for not putting forward any element toward eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

“This is something we will continue to push for because it is written in our agreement,” he said, referring to the agreement reached with the Liberals which should allow them to stay in power until ‘in 2025.

The Bloc Québécois made the same criticism, also decrying the funding promised for carbon capture and storage.

The party’s environment spokeswoman, Monique Pauzé, was also exasperated that the Liberals still wanted to consult on a cap targeting the oil and gas industry.

“(The year) 2030 is eight years away. To draw up this plan, the minister consulted a great deal. (…) At some point, you have to stop consulting and you have to act,” she said.

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