LASER TALK: Laser Talk: Canada’s New NDCs

Laser Talk: Canada’s New NDCs

Canada recently released to the United Nations our nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for reducing our GHGs. Canada’s updated NDC is to reduce our emissions by 40-45 % below 2005 levels by 2030. This is a substantial increase of ambition beyond Canada’s original NDC of 30% below 2005 levels, as previously communicated in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

Clearly, there is both good news and bad news in our NDC. Canada as a nation is more ambitious and our new plans have a pathway to get to these improved targets. But it is not enough.

We are not doing our fair share. In pursuit of the objectives of the Paris Agreement, we are to be guided by the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. Thus, more advanced countries such as Canada are expected to be at least 60 percent below our 2005 levels by 2030. For example, the United Kingdom has enshrined in a law a commitment to slash GHGs by 78% by 2035.

How can Canada be more ambitious? Firstly, we need a lot more provincial action. As one can see from data released earlier this year it is clear that elections of new governments in BC, Alberta, and Ontario all coincided with increased GHGs in those provinces (chart above). 

We need to enact more policies that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. For example, we need to keep improving and defending Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. The predictably rising carbon price will signal to investors to stop putting money into fossil fuels and redirect financial flows to clean energy.  However, the policy needs improvements including a stronger carbon price, and more GHGs need to be priced to their fullest extent. To do that, the government needs to keep working on border carbon adjustments. Happily, because the revenues collected are returned to Canadians, these improvements will not burden the middle- and low-income households.