Canada's new greenhouse emission targets

Prime Minister Harper's plan to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 45 to 65 percent from 2003 levels will result in CO2-equivalent emissions of between 407,000 and 259,000 kilotonnes by 2050. These reductions will be 32 to 56 percent below Canada's 1990 emissions.

Although these reductions appear laudable, it is questionable whether they are sufficient. For example, if global temperature rises are to be limited to 2 degree Celsius and CO2-equivalent concentrations are to be stabilized at 450 parts per million by 2050 (values considered "safe" upper limits), global emissions must peak by 2015 and Annex I countries (such as Canada) must reduce their emissions by 15-20 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 2050, respectively.

With no clear interim reduction targets and a 2050 target that falls well short of the necessary levels, Mr. Harper's plan will do little to help stabilize the climate and protect the planet.

Submitted to Globe and Mail 20 October 2006 - Unpublished