Will Canada Meet its Climate Commitments? — Newspark Jamila Kyari
Newspark — Will Canada Meet its Climate Commitments?
Fig.1. Diaz, Daniel. Pixabay; Web. September 6, 2018.
As part of the Paris Agreement, Canada recently submitted its latest greenhouse gas (GHG) emission report to the United Nations. The results showed an encouraging downward trend but experts warn the trend needs to be bigger to meet targets. Currently, Canada emits 704 million tonnes of GHGS each year. Canada’s commitment with the Paris Agreement is to get emissions down to 517 million tonnes by 2030. This means Canada has to find a way to reduce emissions by 187 million tonnes to meet their goal while meeting any growing demand due to growth.
Although this seems like a big challenge, the federal government is committed to meeting the targets. Their strategy has included providing billions of dollars for public transportation and reforestation. The government is also encouraged by new technologies that will help carbon-heavy reduce industries reduce their emissions. On the other hand GHG emissions might be a bigger problem then recently thought. A recent study has now shown that plastic exposed to sun emit GHGs, especially single use plastic bags. If this new understanding is considered, it may affect Canada’s challenge to meet targets.
While encouraging, scientists are raising concerns about the thawing permafrost (ground that remains frozen for two or more years). Currently, the permafrost of the world holds 1,500 billions tons of carbon (about double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere today) from the remains of plants and animals that became frozen before they decomposed. Unfortunately, when permafrost thaws, it releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. As the earth’s temperature rises, more permafrost will thaw, releasing carbon rather than storing it
National GHG targets can only be met with the support of the provinces and territories. In 2016 Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan and all three territories saw emissions drop while other provinces saw minimal rises.