Canada New emission-cutting goals called 'aggressive,' 'ambitious' and 'illogical'

01:25  23 april  2021
01:25  23 april  2021 Source:   thecanadianpress.com

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President Joe Biden on Thursday doubled US ambitions on slashing greenhouse gas emissions , leading Japan and Canada at a summit in making new commitments that bring the world closer to limiting the worst climate change. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Biden's pledge "a game-changer" that will "have a transformative impact in the global fight against climate change." Britain in November will host a UN conference in Glasgow that aims to upgrade the Paris Agreement.

Officials did not say the emissions goal would be enforced with a specific plan. Asked if the Biden infrastructure proposal must pass in order to meet the goal , officials said the U.S. will provide a summary to illustrate pathways that would enable the transition, but will not have a Mr. Biden warned on Thursday the world would face a "punishing reality" if the global community fails to curb emissions and keep the global temperature below a 1.5 degree Celsius increase, as compared to pre-industrial levels. Scientists have warned that warming beyond that point would mean climate disaster.

CALGARY — New greenhouse gas emission cutting targets are being described as "extremely aggressive," "ambitious" and "illogical" by members of the Canadian oilpatch after they were rolled out at a virtual climate summit of world leaders on Thursday.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera © Provided by The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to slash Canada's GHGs by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030 and President Joe Biden vowed to cut emissions in the United States by 50 to 52 per cent in the same time frame.

"These are obviously extremely aggressive targets being laid out by leaders in Canada and the U.S. and I think there's absence of process or plan behind the targets. But you need to start with the targets, I understand that," said Kevin Neveu, CEO of Calgary-based Precision Drilling Corp., which operates in both Canada and south of the border.

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This new target, which was unveiled at a virtual summit of 40 global leaders, essentially doubles their previous promise. But the leaders of India and China, two of the world's biggest emitters, made no new commitments. "Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade - this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the "This target aligns with what the science says is necessary to put the world on the path to a safer climate, and vaults the US into the top tier of world leaders on climate ambition ." But the new pledge will mean major changes to the American way of life.

Climate scientists claim that cutting planet-heating emissions by half are crucial if the world is to meet the Paris agreement's goals of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Though the new target is among the most ambitious set by a US administration, it falls short of promises made by other nations. The European Union, for example, has pledged to cut emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, while the UK is aiming for a 68 percent reduction by 2030 and 78 percent by 2035. For now, it's unclear if the announcement will truly spur other world powers to take their own preventive steps.

"I think the objectives they are trying to achieve, we agree with and support," he added.

There are solutions available today such as using grid electricity, renewable energy or natural gas that would allow the drilling industry to meet the emission targets for its operations, said Neveu, adding he urges the governments to continue to support research that will allow the broader oilpatch to also cut emissions.

Grant Fagerheim, CEO of Whitecap Resources Inc., said he also supports efforts to reduce emissions but disagrees with the way the new Canadian targets are being rolled out.

"Having aspirational targets with no practical or scientific methodologies is illogical," he said.

"It seems like the federal government is working against the industry and not working with it. That's the frustration. There's no consultation. … We should be using science, not just political wherewithal to reduce (emissions)."

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Radical new climate change commitments will set the UK on course to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, the UK government has announced. Hitting the targets would require more electric cars, low-carbon heating, renewable electricity and, for many, cutting down on meat and dairy. The prime minister's commitments, which are to become law, bring forward the current target for reducing carbon emissions by 15 years. This would be a world-leading position. Homes will need to be much better insulated, and people will be encouraged to drive less and walk and cycle more.

Biden will announce the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% percent, from a baseline of 2005 emissions , at the start of a virtual climate summit he is hosting with 40 other world leaders on Thursday and Friday. A second administration official said the White House expects other world leaders to follow Biden's announcement with their own new commitments for combating climate change. "We were looking for people to make announcements, to raise their ambition , to indicate next steps that they intend to be taking to help solve the climate problem," the official said.

The Canadian industry is being compelled to cut methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025 and is facing a rising tide of carbon taxes, he pointed out.

"We've reduced our direct emissions (at Whitecap) by over 30 per cent since 2017 but you don't get recognized for it," said Fagerheim.

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"Where is the reward program, where is the incentivizing program? Versus the penalizing program?"

In an emailed statement, the CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers defended his members' record in reducing emissions without directly commenting on the scale of the new emissions targets.

“Canada’s natural gas and oil industry has made emissions reduction a priority; not only setting goals, but showing how it can be done," said Tim McMillan.

"For example, in the oilsands industry, average GHGs per barrel have dropped 21 per cent since 2009 and, with current technologies under development, are projected to drop by an additional 20 to 27 per cent by 2030, demonstrating production growth can be compatible with emissions reductions."

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His feed is abruptly cut off and confusion reigns temporarily as moderators try to move on to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Putin sits silently for a moment, unaware that it is his turn to speak. Suga pledges that Japan will aim to reduce emissions by 46% in 2030 compared to 2013 levels. Previously the country had pledged only a 26% cut in emissions . Making Japan a greener society has been a top priority for Suga and he adds it will continue to push an ambitious top-level target for cutting carbon emissions .

That aims to ensure the goal is met by cutting emissions from polluting sectors, rather than relying on removing CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon-absorbing forests. The law requires Brussels to create an independent body of scientific experts to advise on climate policies, plus a greenhouse gas budget laying out the total emissions the EU can produce from 2030-2050, without thwarting its climate goals . (Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by John Chalmers and Philippa Fletcher).

The new targets are "ambitious" and achieving them will require all Canadians to co-operate and change the way they work, said Sneh Seetal, a spokeswoman for oilsands producer Suncor Energy Inc.

She added that the company is pleased with initiatives unveiled in the federal budget earlier this week to support and promote the use of carbon capture utilization and storage to offset GHG emissions.

"We’re encouraged by the political commitments coming out of today’s Leader’s Summit on Climate" said Jesse Semko, spokesman for pipeline company Enbridge Inc.

"Enbridge is committed to doing its part to reduce emissions and achieving our goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050."

The company is upgrading equipment and using solar self-power projects to meet its operational electricity requirements, while investing in renewables like offshore wind and emerging technologies such as hydrogen, renewable natural gas and carbon capture, utilization and storage, he said.

Spokesman Reg Curren declined to comment on the new targets on behalf of Cenovus Energy Inc. but said the oilsands producer remains committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and will complete an analysis to set new near-term targets this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:PD, TSX:SU, TSX:ENB, TSX:WCP, TSX:CVE)

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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