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How good is Canada at reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Canada has a problem. It has a fantastic amount of fossil fuels lying in wait inside shales, but harvesting those fossil fuels takes energy. At the same time, it has made commitments to the world to not emit as many greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In 2009, Canada signed the Copenhagen Accord, which (non-bindingly) promises to reduce GHG emissions by 17% from a 2005 level by 2020. For Canada to reach that goal, it has to have an annual emissions budget of 612 CO2-equivalent megatonnes of GHG emissions. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, Environment Canada has released their findings on how Canada is doing in regards to that goal. The 2013 findings can be summed up in this figure:


So Canada plans on not actually meeting that goal, but to point out the silver lining, it intends on not meeting that goal by 128 fewer Mt CO2e of GHGs than it would have "without measures".

What the heck are "without measures"?
There's three sources for annual emissions on this chart; there's a historical record (running from 1990 to 2011), there's a "with current measures" forecast (running from 2010 to 2020) and there's a "without measures" fore+backcast (running from 2005 to 2020). Measures, in this case, are the measures happening at federal and provincial levels to encourage, or discourage, GHG emissions.

The without measures fore+backcast is interesting because it gives us two values: the amount of GHG emissions changes that happened because of things Canada (and/or its provinces) had control over, and the changes because of things Canada had no control over. The amount of emissions reductions that occurred between years that Canadian measures did, and did not, cause are as follows:

So the good news is that measures enacted since 2006 have caused more reductions in GHG emissions than would have happened if measures had not been enacted. The odd news is that 2010-2011 (the last two years of published GHG emissions) represented a net increase in emissions, whereas the fore+backcasting and forecasting both assumed a net decrease. This discrepancy between modeled emissions and actual emissions suggests that a readjustment of forecasts and fore+backcasts would be useful.

In addition, we have no idea what Canada's GHG emissions for 2012 were, because such a statistic has not been released yet. The "without measures" fore+backcast assumed that there would be a gigantic leap in emissions, whereas "with current measures" forecasting assumed there would be a much more moderate leap. It'd be useful, for the purposes of fine-tuning those two forecasts, to see how 2012 actually performed.

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