The government’s use of a 2006 base year makes its targets for 2020 and 2050 seem superficially impressive. But 1990 is the internationally accepted base year for emission reduction commitments4. Table 1 shows that changing the base year from 1990 to 2006 results in a misleading impression of the adequacy of the targets; it also amounts to an attempt to relinquish responsibility for Canada’s estimated 27% increase in emissions during that period.
Instead of 20% reduction in GHG's by 2020, we actually see a 2% rise by 2020, if we use the same point of reference as the rest of the world, including the Americans :)
How does the government's plan stack up with other countries? Are we really leading the world?:
Analysis of reasonable ways to share out emission reductions between developed and developing countries as part of a global effort to avoid crossing the 2ºC threshold shows that developed countries must reduce their GHG emissions by at least 25% below the 1990 level by 2020 and at least 80% below by 2050.5 When the Government of Canada tells the world that it intends to fall far short of these requirements, it is sending one of three possible messages: either (i) we do not accept the science of climate change, or (ii) we consider the severe impacts expected with more than 2ºC of warming to be acceptable, or (iii) other countries will have to do more to make up for Canada doing less.
Second, the European Union’s heads of government have endorsed the objective of reducing the EU’s GHG emissions to 30% below the 1990 level by 2020, in line with the science, “provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions.” Meanwhile, they have adopted a target 20% below the 1990 level irrespective of other countries’ actions.7 Germany,8 the United Kingdom9 and Norway10 have already committed to stronger targets than this for 2020. For 2050, Norway is proposing to eliminate 100% of its emissions,11 while France and California have committed to 75–80% reductions below the 1990 level.1
Other highlights, or low points, depending on your political leanings:
The Conservatives' environment plan favours the oil sands, leaves taxpayers to foot the bill for industry, and doesn't explain how any drop in greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved, says a leading environment group.
Pembina says the government's new framework treats the sector too easily compared to other industries: the oil sands will have permission to triple its emissions; taxpayers will foot about half of the cost of carbon capture and storage despite the sector being more than able to find the cash; and a vague ‘unintentional fugitive emissions' that currently make up about a quarter of sector emissions are exempt.
The analysis also found several ways that emission cuts could be double-counted to make it look like more was being done.
Pembina concludes that the numbers are creation, to paint a picture of aggressive action. The study goes further, the "dubious" targets aren't even reliable, when you factor in the problems with accountability, loopholes and double-dipping. It is hard to take the Conservatives seriously, when the sector that has contributed the most to the recent spike in GHG's is given preferential treatment.
Conclusion: The only people who argue that Canada is "leading the world" are government officials, and apologists who ape the disingenious rhetoric. Then again, these are just another group of experts, who has spent their entire careers investigating the issue, what do they know?