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Canada’s INDC: ranked “inadequate,” likely to overshoot both 2020 and 2030 targets

20th May 2015

Press release, 20 May 2015 – Canada’s new INDC ranks as “inadequate” under the Climate Action Tracker’s methodology. 

Under its INDC, Canada proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels in 2030. This translates to a 21% reduction below 2005 emissions levels excluding forestry, or 2% below 1990 levels.

• Canada accounts for 10% of the world’s forests. Current projections indicate that it is likely to generate substantial emissions credits in 2030 from activities in the forestry sector. Using forestry credits, it could avoid reducing emissions from other sources such as fossil fuels.

• These credits could be around 63 MtCO2e, more than Sweden’s annual emissions in 2011, based on the best available data (given the multiple uncertainties around both the data and the rules applied).

How will Canada meet its target?

• The reality behind Canada’s INDC (and its 2020 target) is that it will have to implement a lot more policies to achieve its pledges. Without including forestry, Canada’s emissions are projected to increase on 2005 levels by 1% and 8% in 2020 and 2030, respectively. Relative to 1990 levels, emissions are expected to increase by 26% and 35% in 2020 and 2030, respectively.

• Canada has indicated that it may also use international credits to meet its target. Considering the upward trajectory of the current policy projection against the pledge trajectory, Canada would need to use a large quantity of international credits to meet its target.

Tar sands

• While Canada’s emissions stabilised after the financial crisis, one area of concern is its tar sands operations, which are expected to contribute to a significant proportion of its emissions increase. Emissions from tar sands have already increased by 79% from 2005 to represent 9% of Canada’s total emissions. By 2020, emissions from tar sands will be even more significant, reaching 14% of Canada’s total emissions.

Climate Action Tracker Comments

“It’s clear Canada is not serious about climate action. Without any new policies in place, its emissions are expected to balloon through to 2030, with the tar sands taking up a significant proportion. It is difficult to fathom how Canada will achieve both its 2020 pledge and its 2030 INDC,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics

“Canada’s forest sinks are expected to increase through to 2030. This will create a substantial amount of carbon credits that the government can use to avert action on reducing fossil fuel emissions.” said Louise Jeffery, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “The accounting options Canada proposes using are fraught with difficulties, not least because Canada is no longer a party to the Kyoto Protocol, so it can use much looser rules.”

"With this inadequate target, Canada will not tap into its large potential to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Canada risks becoming a laggard in clean innovation, such as energy efficiency,” said Kornelis Blok, of Ecofys.

“In rating Canada “inadequate,” our lowest rating, we note that other governments will have to take a lot more action to make up for the hole left by Canada’s lack of ambition – if warming is to be held to 2°C,” said Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute.

Click here for full analysis of Canada’s INDC

See also Climate Action Tracker's INDC page