The federal government is nearly one-third of the way to reaching its new, easier-to-hit 2020 greenhouse gas targets, according to Environment Canada's 2010 GHG inventory released today.

Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that Canada emitted 692 megatonnes of GHGs in 2010. That is down from 731 in 2005, the baseline year for all government targets.

The government wants to be down to 607 by 2020.

Kent said the report shows Canada has broken the link between economic growth and rising emissions.


Environment Minister Peter Kent says Environment Canada's latest greenhouse gas inventory shows Canada has broken the link between economic growth and rising emissions. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

"This is not a blip. This is a continuing trend and when you look at the statistics revealed in today's report noting that, yes, emissions have grown since 1990 — 22 years ago — by 17 per cent, Canada's economy has grown by more than 60 per cent," the minister said.

Environmentalists, however, were unimpressed with the announcement.

"The government would be better off to stop wasting its time trying to spin their abysmal record on climate change into anything positive," wrote Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network in a statement to CBC News.

She went on to cite cuts made to renewable energy and energy efficiency programs as well as the lack of a plan to limit oil sands emissions.

Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, under the Liberal government of the day. That committed the country to emitting 556 megatonnes of GHGs by 2012.

The Conservative government pulled out of Kyoto last year, saying those targets couldn't be met without destroying the economy.

While the government is happy with the reductions made so far, many experts say they come as a result of provincial  and federal regulation.

In particular, Ontario has made significant strides in phasing out coal-fired electricity generation.

"There's a pretty even split between what the federal government has done and what the provincial governments have done," said Dave Sawyer of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

On top of that, Sawyer said, the numbers provide a snapshot of the past, rather than a view of the future.

Sawyer argued that with this government's plan to focus Canada's economy on resource extraction, GHGs are likely to go up by 13 to 15 per cent.

"If you contrast that to the U.S., their emissions are likely to fall, and what's driving our emissions up is oil and gas primarily," Sawyer said.

A rise in emissions from the energy sector might not happen if there are government regulations to limit them.

But the government still does not have a plan, nor has it made any announcement about when it will release one.