Canada is forecast to exceed its 2020 emission target by 122 million tonnes of CO2

Girl with Canada flag photo
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Big failure from a former climate leader

Under the Copenhagen Accord, which Canada signed, the northern country's greenhouse gas emissions are not supposed to exceed 612 megatonnes of CO2 by 2020, or a reduction of 17% below 2005 levels, which is aligned with the US. But according to a report that was just released, the current trends would bring Canada to 734 megatonnes by 2020, or 122 megatonnes over the limit. And those numbers are conservative, as the report assumes increased regulation of the oil and gas sector.

smokestacks photo

The glass is not entirely empty, though. The report still sees “significant progress” and says emissions would have "risen to 862 megatonnes if no action had been taken by consumers, businesses and governments since 2005." We can wonder how much of that was caused by the worldwide recession that started in 2008-2009.

Still, the fact that the failure could've been even bigger is a small consolation... The atmosphere doesn't care about relative numbers, all it cares about it the absolute number of tonnes of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are pumped in it.

And one thing to remember whenever you hear about emissions: They are a rate. It's like filling up a bathtub. X number of tonnes is how much you are adding each year, so the cumulative numbers are much higher than the yearly numbers that everybody talks about, and the faster we reduce emissions, the more years in the future we'll benefit from the reduced rate (ie. best to cut big on the first year than to cut big on the last year of a certain period).


See also: Climate Departure: When the coldest year is warmer than the warmest year on record

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