Federal audit warns flawed plan won’t meet 2030 GHG reduction target

Federal organizations expected only 34 of the 80 measures to have some direct impact on emissions. Photo Credit: Okawa, stock.adobe.com

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada is warning that delays affecting key emissions reduction measures may result in the country failing to reach its target of cutting greenhouse gas output by 40% to 45% below the 2005 level by 2030.

The report from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development states that the emissions reduction plan developed in 2022 under the Canadian Net‑Zero Emissions Accountability Act could be impacted by delays surrounding an oil and gas emissions cap and Clean Fuel Regulations, all while the window of opportunity to address emissions is rapidly closing.

Only 45% of the 80 measures in the plan had an implementation deadline, the commissioner’s report warned, and nearly all failed to include a target or expected emissions reduction. To meet the overall reductions target, the plan needs to have measures that would be expected to deliver sufficient reductions, says Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Jerry DeMarco, in his report.

Federal organizations expected only 34 of the 80 measures to have some direct impact on emissions. 

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“We found that the measures most critical for reducing emissions had not been identified or prioritized,” wrote DeMarco, who says the report serves as a benchmark for measuring success now and in the future. “These are not new findings,” the report continues. “The federal government has failed to meet previous emission reduction targets despite the development and implementation of more than 10 climate change mitigation plans since 1990.”

The report adds that if Canada were to fail again in meeting its target, the minister must only identify reasons why and propose actions to address the failure.

In its most recent projections, Environment and Climate Change Canada revised the emission reductions it expected to achieve from the measures in the plan to 34% below the 2005 level. 

The report finds that another key impediment to meeting the 2030 target is the report’s observation that responsibility for reducing emissions is “fragmented among multiple federal entities” not directly accountable to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, who is responsible for the plan. 

“Although the minister can support and collaborate with other federal entities, the minister has no authority to commit other entities to do more,” the report states. “This makes progress and course correction difficult.”

The report also highlights delays surrounding strengthened oil and gas methane regulations, which currently have no draft in progress.

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