Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Legislation to set five-year climate targets highest priority this fall: Wilkinson

Canada needs to curb its emissions drastically over three decades

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says he plans to move quickly this fall to set legislated targets to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions that go even further than what has already been promised.

Wilkinson told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that COVID-19 is a priority but that Canada cannot take its eye off the ball when it comes to climate change.

“While COVID is certainly a threat to the health and safety of Canadians and to our economic recovery, the crisis that is climate change, if left unaddressed, will have impacts that are even more significant than COVID-19,” he said.

“We need to elevate our level of ambition and our urgency with which we are addressing the carbon issue.”

The Liberals promised during the 2019 election that they would be aiming to cut more greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 than was promised in the Paris climate accord, and will bring in a law to set five-year targets for curbing emissions all the way to 2050, when the goal is to be at net zero.

That means Canada needs to curb its emissions drastically over three decades and ensure any greenhouse gases still being produced can be absorbed rather than remain in the atmosphere.

That legislation has never materialized, and plans for it got delayed by the pandemic. So did many other facets of the Liberals’ environment platform, from promises to plant two billion new trees to bringing in new standards for cleaner-burning fuels.

In the spring, Wilkinson was not sure when the new target or enforcement legislation would come, but he said this week it is on the top of his to-do list.

“It is, from my perspective, the highest priority from a legislative perspective for me as the minister of environment and climate change,” he said. “We fully intend to move ahead with that once the house is back in session. I think you will see that certainly within the coming few months.”

The government was to have the new targets in place in time for the annual meeting of the United Nations climate conference this fall, but the pandemic put that event off by a year.

The legislated targets are to be legally binding, though it is not clear how they would be enforced. The United Kingdom has a similar type of law.

Canada has set multiple targets for curbing emissions over the last three decades and has never met a single one of them, including the one that said by 2020, Canada would be emitting 17 per cent less than it was in 2005.

The most recent national inventory report on greenhouse gas emissions, which is for 2018, shows Canada emitted almost the same that year as it did in 2005, and will most likely miss the 2020 target by more than 100 million tonnes, which is more than is emitted to heat and power the entire country.

It also missed its 2012 target under the Kyoto accord by more than 100 million tonnes.

With its current policies, Canada will miss the Paris target by more than 70 million tonnes in 2030.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020.


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

Just Posted

Award-winning Calgary developer Brad Remington stands with Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the site of three multi-family condo complexes that are planned for Capstone, west of Carnival Cinemas. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
Red Deer’s Capstone development to kick off with $36 million condo project

Calgary developer plans to create 180 housing units to open in 2022

Forward Quinton Byfield shoots the puck during practice at the team Canada world juniors selection camp in Oakville, Ont., on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s world junior training camp coming to Red Deer

Camp will take place from Nov 16 to Dec. 13 but will be closed to the public

Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling. (Twitter photo from ATA)
Alberta teachers already exhausted and it’s only October

Alberta Teachers’ Association regularly surveying teachers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be joining European Union leaders for a virtual summit, where they are expected to discuss their shared commitment to international co-operation and what that means ahead of Tuesday’s U.S presidential election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, EU leaders meet ahead of U.S. election to reinforce support of world order

Trudeau speaking with the European Union’s two top political leaders

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Grade 3 and 4 students from St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School in Innisfail spent time this week honouring Canadian veterans. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Innisfail students lay poppies to honour veterans

Grade 3 and 4 students from St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School in… Continue reading

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

If you have a letter you'd like to submit to the editor for consideration, please email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. Look forward to hearing your thoughts. 
Two readers express different views on hospital worker walkout

Union members deserve more respect Re: “Yes, we know how to do… Continue reading

Email letters to editor@interior-news.com
Gift of groceries leaves couple ‘speechless’

Red Deer has got to be the No. 1 place in Alberta.… Continue reading

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Matt Berger is shown skateboarding in Huntington Beach California in this July 10, 2020 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Monster Energy, Joey Shigeo Muellner
Canadian skateboarder Matt Berger awaits his sport’s Olympic debut

Berger ranked No. 1 in Canada and 17th in the world

Most Read