Ottawa says most provinces falling short of greenhouse gas cuts

The federal environment minister has sent a letter to all of her provincial counterparts asking for more details of how they plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions post 2020.

Environment minister wants more details on provinces' plans to cut emissions

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq says she needs more detail from the provinces and territories about their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal environment minister has sent a letter to the provinces outlining how most of them are falling short of their targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Leona Aglukkaq sent the letter Friday, a few days in advance of a provincial/territorial meeting on climate change in Quebec City.

The federal data shows that most provinces will not meet their 2020 targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

British Columbia and Alberta are the furthest behind. Ontario and Saskatchewan follow, with Quebec rounding out the top five.

When the provincial gaps are tallied up, they amount to 109 megatonnes, which is just 7 megatonnes short of the amount by which Canada will not meet its commitment for 2020.

New federal commitment

Aglukkaq also asked the provinces for more detail on what they plan to do after 2020.

Canada is putting together its new federal commitment in preparation of a world summit in Paris this December.

Many other countries have already published their post-2020 promises, including the U.S. and Russia. Aglukkaq says she needs more detail from the provinces and territories about their plans.

"There continues to be ongoing engagement between our officials to collect these inputs," she writes, adding, "That said, we have not yet received information for the post-2020 period at a level of detail that would satisfy the expectation of the Lima Call for Climate Action."

This weekend while on a trip to Panama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to have Canada's commitment ready by the upcoming G7 summit in June.

"We wanted to wait for awhile to, at least, give the provinces the chance to have the conference they're going to have and address some of their own target issues and we want to see the outcomes of that," he told reporters. 

Dale Marshall, a program manager with Environmental Defence, said that the bulk of Canada's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions have been done at the provincial level. Aglukkaq's letter is an attempt to draw attention away the federal government's failures, he said. 

"For those provinces to now be turned to by the federal government and asked, 'What are you going to do for us now?' seems irresponsible. For the letter to come this late ... seems very much like a deflection away from the federal government and it's repsonsibilities."

Cap-and-trade agreement

The letter also comes on the eve of an expected announcement from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. CBC News has learned she will sign an agreement on Monday to join Quebec in a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a statement sent to CBC News Sunday evening, Ontario's Environment Minister Glen Murray said "Canada needs a federal government that is willing to work with provinces."

The cap-and-trade system Wynne is expected to implement allows companies to either limit their emissions or buy credits from companies that have.

Quebec implemented its cap-and-trade system in January.  To date $190 million worth of credits to reduce emissions have been purchased by companies.

Quebec's operates its system with California. Monday's announcement means that Ontario, Quebec and California could set up a joint system to allow companies to trade their emissions between all three jurisdictions.


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