Page last updated: 20th November 2013



Canada's commitment for 2020 is -17% relative to 2005 emission levels by 2020 which translates to +3% relative to 1990. With current policies in place, Canada is not on track to meet their pledge. Even taking into consideration the potentially considerable credits from LULUCF, the pledge would not be met.

Pledge description

Canada's Kyoto Protocol target (2008-2012) was a reduction of 6% relative to 1990 emission levels. In December 2011, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada's commitment under the Convention of -17% relative to 2005 emission levels by 2020 (+3% relative to 1990) weakens their previous Kyoto target. It also a weakens their initial pledge under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce emissions by 20% relative to 2006 emissions by 2020. The new target aligns Canada with the USA. Canada proposes to exclude emissions from natural disturbances from the base year and from the commitment period’s cumulative emissions, and supports accounting for removals from harvested wood products. This could lead to higher credits (or lower debits).

In the long term, Canada has proposed to reduce emissions by -60 to -70% relative to 2006 by 2050.

Current trend description

With currently implemented policies, Canada will reach emissions of 762 MtCO2e in 2020 (excluding emissions from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry - LULUCF), reaching approximately 3.3% more than the 2005 value. According to Canada’s own projections, LULUCF will decrease emissions by 28 MtCO2e in 2020. Even accounting for potential credits from LULUCF, it would still not be sufficient to reach the pledge (Environment Canada, 2013).

In comparison to previous Canadian emission projections from the year 2012 (Environment Canada, 2012), the current scenarios are higher, resulting from increased projections in most sectors. The only sector which shows a slight improvement in comparison to the previous projections is oil and gas production, but this is mainly due to changes in methodology. In comparison to 2005 levels, emissions from oil and gas production are still expected to increase significantly.

Canada has various policies in place to reduce emissions. It is important to note that no relevant new actions have been taken during the last year on federal level: Canada’s Emission Trends 2013 contain the same list of policies as the report from 2012 (Partington 2013). Nevertheless, Canada has various policies in place to reduce emissions. Standards for light and heavy duty vehicles and the Federal Emissions Performance Standard for coal-fired electricity generation are aligned with regulations in the US. The standard for coal-fired power plants only applies to new power plants, and therefore implies no significant change against business as usual given the current situation of low gas prices. The second phase of the light duty vehicle standards, however, does have potential to reduce emissions. Furthermore, there are some promising state level activities, especially Ontario’s decision to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2014.

Date of pledge
January 2010



Targets for 2020 were calculated from the most recent national inventory submissions (2012). We calculated Canada's LULUCF accounting quantities in 2020 for afforestation, reforestation and deforestation using the current Kyoto rules, and used a net-net approach with a projected reference level for 2013-2020 for forest management.

Current trend

We used the most recent GHG inventory for historic data (CRF 2013) and applied growth rates from projections from Environment Canada for projections for the current trends.


CRF (2013). UNFCCC AWG-KP Submissions 2013. Common Reporting Format.

Government of Canada (2011). Submission to the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP): Forest management reference level

Government of Canada (2010). Canada's pledge to the Copenhagen Accord. Compiled in: Compilation of economy-wide emission reduction targets to be implemented by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, UNFCCC (2011).

Government of Canada (2009a). Further elaboration of the options, elements and issues contained in annex IV to document FCCC/KP/AWG/2008/3 and annex III to document FCCC/KP/AWG/2008/5, including on which proposals could address cross-cutting issues, and how

Government of Canada (2009b). Informal Submission to the AWG-KP: Data on forest management

Government of Canada (2007). Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP):Information and data on the mitigation potential of policies, measures and technologies

Environment Canada (2013) Canada’s Emission Trends

Environment Canada (2012). Canada’s Emission Trends

Partington, P.J. (2013). Trending Bad: What Environment Canada's latest climate report says about Canada's carbon pollution.