File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS                                Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Canada can hit Paris promise if we switch to electric cars and public transit

OTTAWA — Canada’s current climate-change plans leave it 79 million tonnes shy of its greenhouse-gas emissions targets but Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says most of that gap will be closed if Canadians switch to electric cars and public transit more quickly.

Canada aims to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and similar gases to 513 million tonnes a year by 2030. In 2016, the most recent year for which measurements are available, Canada emitted 704 million tonnes. Computer modeling suggests by 2030 we will get down to 592 million tonnes if we fully implement all the measures Canada has planned, like the carbon tax, clean fuel standards, energy-efficiency improvements for buildings and closing coal-fired power plants.

But McKenna said Thursday that a number of moves haven’t been worked into the country’s models yet, such as the construction of major new transit systems and policies to cut the use of single-use plastic packaging.

She said new technology is coming fast that will help Canada get all the way there, holding up her iPhone multiple times as an example of something that didn’t exist 10 years ago but that has now been widely adopted. (Apple’s iPhone was introduced 11 years ago, though it wasn’t available in Canada until 2008.)

“We’re talking about 2030,” she said. “That’s 12 years. We can do this.”

McKenna’s office released more details on some of the climate programs meant to make a difference. Those include proposed regulations for a clean-fuels standard that will require liquid fuels like gasoline and diesel to burn 11 per cent more cleanly by 2030. That measure alone will contribute to cutting 23 million tonnes of emissions, the government says.

New standards for solid and gaseous fuels will be introduced later, with a goal to cut at least seven million tonnes of emissions from them by 2030.

The clean-fuels standard is on top of the carbon price that will be applied to input fuels in provinces that don’t already have their own starting next April. Environment officials said they can’t yet say what impact it will have on the price of gasoline or other liquid fuels but acknowledged it will have one.

McKenna called the need for Canadian companies to find ways to meet the new rules an economic opportunity.

“We did not get out of the Stone Age cause we ran out of stones,” McKenna said. “We got smarter and that’s exactly what we’re doing with our policies, including the clean-fuel standard.”

Conservative environment critic Ed Fast slammed the standard as just another way the government is trying to kill Canada’s oil industry. He said like the carbon price, the clean-fuel standard will raise the cost of everything.

Environment groups largely applauded the proposed standard Thursday. Clean Energy Canada said its research shows it can drive $5.6 billion a year in economic growth and create 31,000 jobs in the building, supply and operating of new clean-fuel production facilities.

McKenna’s latest emissions announcement comes just two days after her government offered up another $1.6 billion to help Alberta’s oil-and-gas sector weather a price crisis, much of it in efforts to help find new markets to sell to.

That investment was met by boos in Alberta, where the government said the money won’t solve the key problem of getting its oil transported to buyers, and jeers from environment groups that said investing in fossil fuels at all is contrary to Canada’s global climate-change commitments.

NDP environment critic Alexandre Boulerice said subsidies to fossil-fuel companies and buying pipelines, like the federal government’s $4.5-billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline earlier this year, run counter to the government’s climate-change claims.

“Canada can’t expect to meet our climate commitments when our government continues to hand out giveaways to major polluters,” he said.

McKenna said she is not just the environment minister for environmentalists but also for Albertans and oil-sector workers.

“We’re in a transition,” she said. ”Transitions to a cleaner future are hard. They don’t happen from one day to the next.”

McKenna’s department is also updating the carbon-pricing system for big industry, giving more leeway to producers of petrochemicals, lime and cement because of competitive pressures they face internationally.

The environment ministry is not yet saying exactly how much revenue it expects to raise from big emitters but promises it will be returned to be used to cut emissions in the industries that pay it. More details of those plans are supposed to be available in 2019.

Climate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau cottage in Ottawa, on Friday, March 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Liberals to release federal budget with eye on managing crisis, post-pandemic growth

OTTAWA — The federal government will this afternoon unveil its spending plans… Continue reading

In this image from NASA, NASA's experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s experimental helicopter Ingenuity rose into the thin… Continue reading

In this March 19, 2021, file photo, residents wearing masks ride pass government propaganda with slogans some of which read "Forever follow the Party" and "China's Ethnicities One Family" in the city of Aksu in western China's Xinjiang region. A human rights group appealed to the United Nations on Monday, April 19, 2021 to investigate allegations China's government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Group urges UN to probe China for crimes against humanity

KASHGAR, China — A human rights group appealed to the United Nations… Continue reading

People eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations can call the Kent Senior Center for appointments at the city facility. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent
Alberta joins Ontario in lowering minimum age for AstraZeneca vaccine

Two provinces will offer the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 40 and… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read