Number Crunch: Where Canada's Emission Targets Stand

Canada has committed to emission reductions at home of 2.7% below 1990 levels by the year 2020. (Or 20% below 2006 levels by 2020 as the government phrases it). Remember that we committed years ago to 6% below 1990 level target by the year 2012 via the Kyoto Protocol.

I am confident that the government recognizes the scientific advice of achieving 25 to 40% emission reductions globally below 1990 levels by 2020. Yet our target doesn’t seem to match up.

To put this in perspective, Japans statement of a much higher level, -15% by 2020, received a response from Yvo de Boer (general secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change) of, “For the first time in 2.5 years in this job, I don’t know what to say.”

He continued to say that the emission reduction plans to date leave developed countries “a long, long way from the ambitious reduction scenarios” that scientists say are needed.

In addition, almost all other developed countries are submitting targets more ambitious than Canada. For example: European Union: 20-30%, Australia: 5-25%, United States: 17-24%. Studies show that it is economically feasible for Canada to achieve the 25 to 40% by 2020: this target is ambitious, though certainly possible.

What is it going to take for Canada to gain leadership? Quite possibly the voice of the people. I’ve written my letter to our Minister of Environment. Have you?

About The Author

Avatar of Zoë Caron

Zoë is the co-author of ''Global Warming for Dummies" and International Policy Editor on ItsGettingHotInHere. She is the Climate Policy & Advocacy Specialist for WWF Canada and served on the provincial renewable energy stakeholder consultation project team in Nova Scotia. She is the President of the Board of Directors of Sierra Club Canada and was a founding member of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. Having worked with non-profit companies and organizations within sustainability, education and social mobilization, Zoë has been named in the Top 50 Canadian Green List, The Gold Awards in ELLE magazine, and profiled with colleagues in Vanity Fair. With an academic background in international development and environmental science, Zoë attends United Nations Climate Change Conferences and has ventured to both the Arctic and Antarctic on education and science based expeditions. Zoë is based out of Toronto, Canada.

  • Julie Erickson

    Hi Zoe -

    Any word on where Canada stands on Annex II obligations? Has their negotiator made any statements about funds for adaptation/tech transfer/REDD?

  • Zoe

    Hi Julie,

    Apologies for a delayed reply.

    Canada did submit new text related to adaptation, technology and mitigation, but those have not been made public.

    Canada committed to provide its “fair share” of financial support for climate action in developing countries.

    New analysis from the Pembina Institute shows that Canada’s contribution would be about 3–4% of the total. Using conservative estimates, Canada’s “fair share” works out to approximately $2–6 billion per year.

    I hope that helps,

  • Franny


    Thank you for all of this excellent tracking. So useful.

    I have a request. Given this statement:

    Studies show that it is economically feasible for Canada to achieve the 25 to 40% by 2020: this target is ambitious, though certainly possible.

    Could you tell us which studies and who conducted them?

    Thank you! Much appreciated!

    Take care,

  • Zoe

    Hi Franny,

    Looks like the links in the post got lost once we transferred to a new website. Sorry about that. The study is from The Pembina Institute. I’ll find the link and post it here when I have it.