April 2021 Update

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Update – April 4, 2021

On April 4, 2021, the Canadian government released the latest GHG emissions report that adds 2019 emissions to the data.

What are the targets?

BC has committed to reduce GHG emissions 40% as compared to 2007 levels by 2030. Back in 2007 the Campbell Liberal government committed to a 33% reduction as compared to 2007 levels by 2020.

The 2020 target was badly missed with emissions essentially unchanged over that time period despite many policies being put in place including a carbon tax, clean fuel standard and clean electricity standard. Of course, the population and the economy grew during that period, but that was expected when the target was set.

Both of these targets are overlayed on the GHG emissions chart.

How is BC doing so far?

Reported 2019 emissions for BC were essentially  flat compared to the year before at 65.7 Mt CO2e. Flat is better than up, but it puts BC 2.5 Mt CO2e above the 2017 benchmark year and about 6.5 Mt CO2e behind towards its 2030 goal, assuming a linear reduction per year.

But things will get better soon, right?

The pandemic has surely caused a big drop in emissions. Estimates vary but about a 5% to 10% reduction for 2020 seems likely due to travel being severely curtailed. However, there is little hope that these reductions will stick as life returns to “normal.”

As new policies come into force and the carbon tax rises, emissions will come down, right?

One would hope so. We will see. Actual emissions are a “lagging indicator” that is a measure that is detected well after the fact. Emissions reporting is madding slow (the data being reported here is 2 years old.) A mid-term indicator is fossil fuel use, measures of which are available on a quarterly or even monthly basis. While not the whole story, they are 80% of the story. Without serious reductions in fossil fuel use BC will not get close to its target.

A “leading indicator”, one that is a precursor to the actual change, is investments. If companies are investing in low carbon technology that can foretell a reduction in emissions in the future. One would also expect to see a reduction in fossil fuel energy investments.

In chart 2 we can see investments have not been moving in the right direct. Fossil energy investments continue to dominate. Hydro is up due to the building of Site C, but wind and solar investments are tiny, and biofuels don’t even register.

*Fuel GHG emissions estimated using consumption and emission factors

**Wind and Solar investment estimated by change in installed capacity

Purpose of this page – To report and visualize, succinctly and consistently,  data that indicates how government policies to reduce GHG emissions to meet Paris commitments are working.

We track, year over year, the following for each province and the country as a whole.

  • GHG emissions by fuel source (along with the targets set by the government).
  • Energy consumption by fuel source.
  • Electricity generation by fuel source.
  • Electricity capacity by fuel source.
  • Capital investments in energy generation by fuel source.

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In your view, what is the probability that Canada will succeed in reaching its 2030 emissions targets?


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