Canada's Targets

Canada's Pan-Canadian Framework emission reduction targets still match the Harper-era target for 2030 (30%). However, according to Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, it is possible to strengthen the targets

"A Party may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition, in accordance with guidance adopted by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement."

If Canada follows the path of our targets, Canada's cumulative emissions will exceed the population-based share of the global carbon budget for remaining under 2 degrees C before 2025 and under 3 degrees C before 2050.

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI):

Among the top 10 absolute emitters, only two have per capita emissions that are below the world average. Canada, the United States, and Russia emit more than double the global average per person. On the other end of the spectrum, India’s per capita emissions are only one-third of the global average.
Moreover, the EU and the United States will achieve their targets without using international market mechanisms, while Canada has indicated it may use such mechanisms – to an unstated extent – to meet its goal. This means that Canada’s reductions undertaken domestically may not reach the level of its stated target. This is also important due to the risk that reductions achieved under these mechanisms could be double-counted by both buyers and sellers.

In 2011, Canada's per-capita emissions were higher than those of the US, Russia and most other developed countries (for some reason, WRI did not include Australia).

Our charts illustrate Canada's Pan-Canadian emission reduction targets and the major differences between them and what is necessary to meet our commitments in the Paris Agreement. They represent what the necessary emission reductions need to be for Canada's population-based shares of the global carbon budgets. (Click here for a discussion of emissions-based shared targets)

The emission reduction targets/limits for remaining below 1.5, 2 or 3 degrees C (compared to 2005 emissions of 747 MtCO2e)

Pan-Canadian targets
Less than 2oC
Less than 3oC
100% (by 2017)
126 MtCO2e
618 MtCO2e
523 MtCO2e
100% (by 2022)
506 MtCO2e
178 MtCO2e
149 MtCO2e
100% (by 2048)


How many years of our budgets (from 2016) will Canada have if we do not reduce our annual emissions?

Population-based sharing

Less than 1.5oC
Less than 2oC
Less than 3oC
0 years
3 years
15 years


Emissions-based sharing

Less than 1.5oC
Less than 2oC
Less than 3oC
6 years
24 years
65 years


65 years seems great, but only if you think it is OK for global temperatures to increase by up to 3 degrees and for Canada to have an unfair share of the global emissions (based on our current emissions).

According to Climate Action Tracker:

On 15 May 2015, Canada submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) (pdf), proposing an economy-wide target to reduce GHG emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. 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.

Canada intends to use a “net-net” approach to account for LULUCF emissions and a production approach to account for harvested wood products. Accounting for Harvested Wood Products (HWPs) must be performed in a consistent and compatible manner across countries so that accounting of imported and exported HWPs is complete and emissions are not excluded from inventories. It excludes emissions from natural disturbances (e.g. forest fires and insect outbreaks).

In its INDC communication, Canada does not quantify the impact of these accounting rules on the emissions level for compliance in 2030. According to our best estimate based on available data, the net-net accounting approach will generate 126 MtCO2e of credits for Canada in 2030 (see assumptions for further details). Using LULUCF credits weakens the INDC, as these credits can be used to offset emissions increases in other sectors such as energy and industry. We estimate this target is a reduction of 13% below 2005 levels of industrial GHG emissions. This is equivalent to an increase of 8% above 1990 levels.


Canada's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) states, "Canada may also use international mechanisms to achieve the target, subject to robust systems that deliver real and verified emissions reductions." Canada seems to believe in market-based solutions to our otherwise inadequate targets.

Does this mean financing mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage in developing countries? According to Civil Society Equity Review

As a supplement to their domestic INDC’s, each developed country party should set a target to provide the means of implementation to developing countries to address the emissions reductions gap. Developed countries should pledge to work with developing countries to implement the additional actions that are needed. Significantly scaled-up public finance for adaptation and to address loss and damage are also imperative, given the significant impacts that are already being felt, and the escalating impacts that are expected.



Legend for charts

The diamonds represent the following:

 732 MtCO2e (2014 emissions)
 523 MtCO2e (30% below 2005 by 2030)
 149 MtCO2e (80% below 2005 by 2050)

The green line represents Canada's population-based limits for keeping global temperatures from increasing by more than 1.5 degrees C which is the global temperature increase that Canada pledged to pursue in the Paris Agreement ("pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels")

The yellow line represents Canada's limits for keeping global temperatures from increasing by more than 2 degrees C. This is the maximum global temperature increase that Canada pledged in the Paris Agreement ("holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels")

The red line represents the limits for preventing temperatures from rising above 3 degrees C. This global temperature increase would lead to climate chaos, and we pledged to do our share to prevent this.

Population-based share is based on Canada's share of the global population (0.5%).

Emissions-based share is based on Canada's share of global emissions (1.7%)