Vital facts concerning Canada’s weak effort on climate change
Special report from Climate Action NOW
Canada’s inadequate emissions target means that we are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at dangerously high levels.
Unless the government rapidly reduces its emissions in the future, Canada will contribute emissions to the global effort at a level that will have world temperatures increase to the dangerously high 3.5 Celsius mark above pre-Industrial Era temperatures.
If all countries followed Canada’s bad example, temperatures and climatic conditions would make living conditions extremely difficult because of intense heat in most regions, unpredictable and damaging climatic changes, and rising ocean levels.
Climate change is the greatest problem facing the world today. Global warming occurs because carbon dioxide (CO2), which helps heat up the earth, is trapped in growing amounts in the atmosphere. It does not dissipate.
In fact, the atmosphere now holds so much CO2 that the average global temperature has increased 1.1 C from the pre-industrial era, more than 250 years ago.
Scientists have calculated that to avoid quite serious climate disruption it is important to keep the average global increase close to 1.5 C, which was the original target of the UN process. However, there’s now agreement that it is practically impossible to stay near the 1.5 target.
The Paris Agreement declared that it is crucial to keep global temperature increases to well below 2 C, but even this will be a challenge.
Canadian government reduction targets are far below what they need to be.
Climate Action NOW has calculated Canada’s fair share of the global CO2 allocation ( known as a “carbon budget”). Based on the fact that Canada has 0.5 per cent of the world’s population, we should not use more than 0.5 per cent of the globe’s carbon budget.
Unfortunately, Canada’s carbon budget will soon be used up. We now emit about 730 Megatonnes of CO2e per year. At this rate, our allocation to keep our emissions close to 2 C will likely be used up by 2020.
The government doesn’t normally mention increases in degrees when discussing the consequences of carbon emissions. Instead, it talks about reducing CO2 emissions by percentages compared to earlier years.
So the government’s target is to reduce our CO2 emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. But, as shown in the chart below – unless the government makes dramatic improvements – Canada is on its way to exceeding an extremely damaging 3 degrees increase.
In the chart on the left, the blue line indicates what Canada’s total emissions will be if we follow the current reduction plan – 30 per cent below our 2005 emissions by 2030. It shows that we will be dangerously above 2 degrees (and ultimately above 3 degrees C) level by 2030.
This chart compares Canadian targets to what they should be to keep within the budget for 2 degrees C. It shows that our target (30% by 2030) is too large even to keep within the budget for 3 degrees C.
Prepared by Climate Action NOW, a Toronto-based volunteer climate change and environmental organization dedicated to awakening Canada's citizens and leaders to the urgent need for a scientifically grounded and equitable climate plan that reflects Canada's fair share of the globe's remaining burnable carbon. We call on all Canadian governments to fulfill our promise made, in Paris, to keep the global temperature increase under 2 degrees and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.
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