Scathing reports reveal decades of Canadian climate failure

TO scathing report series Canada’s climate watchdog have exposed decades of failure to cut emissions, with the current government branded as “policy inconsistency” in several files.

Used by Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development Jerry DeMarco to describe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s major initiatives, such as the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline and the Onshore Emissions Reduction Fund, the “policy incoherence” is, in this case, a euphemism for policies that undermine long-term climate goals.

The Trans Mountain expansion would nearly triple the capacity of the pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, helping to facilitate increased production in the oil sands. Meanwhile, the emissions reduction fund was so poorly designed that it amounts to little more than a fossil fuel subsidy that may have actually increased emissions, the commissioner found.

DeMarco compared Ottawa’s climate policy to pushing a rock uphill, and said policies like those supporting the fossil fuel sector go against the goal.

“When departments are pushing uphill … there are other departments pushing on the other side of the rock pushing it down, that’s essentially what is happening,” he said.

The federal government under the supervision of Trudeau declared famous a weather emergency and then bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline the next day from Kinder Morgan for $ 4.5 billion to ensure the construction of the expansion. Although the official price of the project has risen from $ 5.4 billion to $ 12.6 billion, some have calculated that with continued delays and rising insurance costs, it is likely to approach $ 20 billion.

A growing chorus of international energy forecasts say there are without space for any new fossil fuel development in a world that keeps global warming by Paris Agreement target of 1.5 C, and that oil demand will decrease in all scenarios. But how recently like this monthTrudeau said it is important that Canada make money from its oil and gas sector as part of its rationale for going ahead with the pipeline construction. Ottawa has repeatedly said that the pipeline revenue will unfold to environmentally friendly projects.

However, a cost benefit analysis from Simon Fraser University earlier this year found that “there is no likely scenario in which (the Trans Mountain expansion project) will generate a net benefit for Canada.” By contrast, the net cost is expected to range between $ 8.3 billion and $ 18.5 billion, and the “base case assumptions” project a loss of $ 11.9 billion for Canadians.

The “federal government builds on talking points from years ago about Trans Mountain that just don’t coincide with science or economics,” said Canada’s 350 climate advocacy group Cam Fenton.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the government does not have an answer to this inconsistency and that threatens to undermine its entire climate agenda.”

“We ask for the data on how much value for money you are getting, what is the dollar cost per labor saved, for example, and they can’t show us that … because they’re not tracking that,” says climate regulator Jerry DeMarco.

Government messages around the ground emissions reduction fund have also not stood up to scrutiny. The fund started with the purpose of helping oil and gas companies Reduce emissions while remaining economically competitive. However, DeMarco’s findings show that most of the companies that tapped the fund said it would increase fossil fuel production and that some of the emissions targeted by the funding were already covered by other programs, generating the risk of double counting. In other words, it was a cash donation for the oil and gas industry.

DeMarco said his main interest was its impact on emissions, but the government said there were other objectives around investments and job retention and suggested taking a more “holistic” approach. DeMarco says he asked for data and the government was unable to provide it.

“We ask for the data on how much value for money you’re getting, what is the dollar cost per saved labor, for example, and they can’t show us that … because they’re not tracking that,” he said.

“They have to be able to tell taxpayers: We have raised the $ 600 (million) to $ 700 million of Canada’s tax base, we are redistributing it to the fossil fuel industry, (and) here is the value that I am going to get out of. of that. There simply cannot be claims that there will be emissions reductions, job retention or investment, there needs to be data to back that up, ”he said.

Not being able to keep track of set goals “goes against the basic principles of performance management in government,” DeMarco said.

DeMarco makes several recommendations in his report covering the last 30 years Canada’s failure to meet climate targets. Among them are calls to centralize responsibility for climate change with the federal government, diversify energy production to reduce the risk of stranded assets, protect workers and communities from any damaging impacts of a transition to a clean economy. , develop a national energy strategy and improve transparency.

Environmental Defense Senior Program Director Julia Levin called the report “a scathing indictment of a lack of leadership expressed in kinder words.”

“A big part of why they don’t use this as much as they should, why they can get away with it and continue with these big political decisions that make the fight against climate change even more difficult… is because they know they are not there. being watched closely, “she said.

Still, Levin said the Liberal Party is beginning to pay the price for lingering as the climate crisis continues to hit Canadians.

“Twice in a row they were not given a majority government,” he said.

Speaking to reporters, Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault acknowledged that Canada has been poor in implementing policies, but said that since 2015, the federal government has been making progress.

“We have to do more, and in the last election, Canadians told us very clearly: we want you to do more and do it faster when it comes to climate change. And that is certainly a message that I have taken seriously and also the rest of our government and the prime minister, ”he said.

Opposition climate critics were quick to weigh in.

In a statement, NDP environmental critic Laurel Collins challenged the notion that since Trudeau took office, progress has been made, noting that, unlike its G7 peers, Canada’s total emissions continue to grow, its emissions per capita are the highest in the world. and the country is among the top 10 countries that have contributed the most to climate change since the Industrial Revolution.

“While Mr. Trudeau pretends to be a climate leader, he continues to give huge amounts of oil and gas billions in fossil fuel subsidies,” he said.

Conservative Party shadow ministers for climate, natural resources and official languages, MPs Dan Albas, Michelle Rempel Garner and Alain Rayes, respectively, also issued a joint statement, attacking the federal government.

“The finding that Natural Resources Canada’s Emission Reduction Fund was so poorly designed that the funding may have led to an increase in carbon emissions is ridiculous. We urgently need policies that incentivize the continued development of low-carbon energy and carbon reduction, ”the statement read.

Green Party Parliamentary Leader Elizabeth May said National Observer of Canada that tackling the climate crisis requires leadership from above to encourage a genuine whole-of-government approach.

“Clearly, there is something wrong when you look at 30 years of failure,” he said, adding, “the fact that the climate response is not seen as a government-wide responsibility is, I think, key.”

May described how US President Joe Biden beaten Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who signed the Paris Agreement on behalf of the United States, will be special envoy for the climate and a member of the National Security Council.

“It’s a very different approach than Justin Trudeau says, ‘Here’s your new environment minister and he’ll fix everything,'” May said.

“The Minister of the Environment should not be in charge of the climate crisis file. No minister should do it unless he is the prime minister. This requires leadership. “

John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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