GHG emissions stable despite economic growth: Kent
Minister of the Environment Peter Kent responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday Dec. 13, 2011. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:20PM EDT
Canada's greenhouse gas emissions remained stable in 2010 despite economic growth, Environment Minister Peter Kent announced Wednesday, touting the country's efforts to improve the environment while creating more jobs.
Kent released three reports on emission levels across the country, which show that greenhouse gases rose by just two megatonnes, or 0.25 per cent, to 692 megatonnes in 2010. That year, the economy grew by 3.2 per cent.
"Through a responsible and practical approach to managing both the environment and the economy we will continue on this path," Kent said in Toronto. "This is not a blip, this is a continuing trend."
He said Canada is making "good progress" in its goal to reduce emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. In 2005, Canada released 731 megatonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the majority of which came from oil, gas, transportation and electricity sectors.
However, Environment Canada said that even with all the government's actions and new environmental initiatives, Canada will only get a quarter of the way to meeting its 2020 goal.
Canada's emissions peaked at 751 megatonnes in 2007. They fell in 2008 and 2009 during the global recession and were expected to rise as the economy recovered.
According to latest data, annual greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 48 megatonnes since 2005. Kent pointed out that emissions have decreased in almost all sectors, including oil and gas.
While the economy grew by 60.5 per cent between 1990 and 2010, emissions rose by 17.5 per cent. Global greenhouse emissions increased by 25 per cent between 1990 and 2005, according to Environment Canada.
The closures of coal-fired power plants, especially in Ontario, have been credited with helping reduce Canada's emissions.
But environmental groups said the federal government has nothing to celebrate.
"Environment Canada admits that the current policies of federal and provincial governments will only achieve one quarter of the necessary reduction to hit the Harper government's own climate target," Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada wrote in an email to The Canadian Press.
John Bennett of the Sierra Club said the drop in greenhouse gas release is "minor" and "meaningless" without a cap on industrial emissions.
Even though Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, which requires major industrial countries to reduce their emissions, Ottawa still must submit a report every year on its greenhouse gases to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In the March federal budget, the Conservative government axed the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, an independent body that has publicly criticized Ottawa on its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
With files from the Canadian Press