Eastern Provinces & States failing GHG targets
The Climate Change Action Report Card, which has been released annually for 6 years, graded the progress of the states and provinces towards achieving the 2010 emission targets and showed that emissions from each region have been increasing since the 2001 commitment.
The provinces include New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. The states include Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.
In 2001, at the annual Conference of New England Governors (NEG) and Eastern Canadian Premiers (ECP), organizations which represent the respective provinces and states, a Climate Change Action Plan was created which set the following goals:
- Reduce regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2010.
- Reduce regional GHG emissions by at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020.
- Reduce regional GHG emissions by 75-85% in the long-term.
The report put forward suggestions on the action steps required to achieve the goals of the Climate Change Action Plan:
- Establish a Regional Standardized GHG Emissions Inventory
- Establish a Plan for Reducing GHG Emissions and Conserving Energy
- Promotion of Public Awareness
- State and Provincial Governments Lead by Example
- Reduce GHG Emissions from the Electricity Sector
- Reduce Total Energy Demand Through Conservation
- Reduce and/or Adapt to Negative Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change
- Decrease the Transportation Sector’s Growth in GHG Emissions
According to the Report Card, six of the regions received a failing mark in working towards 2010 emission targets, four received a ‘D’ grade, one received a ‘C’ grade and none of the regions followed all of the steps laid out in 2001.
Since 2001 all emissions have either remained the same or increased, however none have gone down and all emissions, with the exception of Massachusetts, remain higher than 1990 levels.
The report does highlight some of the more progressive initiatives taken to reduce emissions in the electricity, transportation and building sectors.
For instance, Quebec launched a carbon tax in 2006 targeted at the oil and gas industry. The tax, North America’s first, is expected to bring in $200-million per year for the province, and $120-million of the annual intake will be used to expand public transportation throughout the province.
Prince Edward Island also received recognition for all ready achieving its 2010 goal of providing 15% of its electricity through renewable sources.
Environmental groups which contributed to the Report Card, such as the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) from Nova Scotia, have been quick to point out the ambiguity of priorities in several of the States and Provinces. For instance in Nova Scotia, the government has improved public awareness about environmental issues receiving an ‘A’ grade, but has also made plans to add more cars and trucks to the roads by twinning major highways.
Nova Scotia’s Energy Minister, Richard Hurlburt, is pleased with the progress the province has been making and said that the province is committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and will create a climate change action plan by spring.
The report concludes that even though there have been some innovative and effective policies put into place, it is going to take better leadership, mandatory policies and an aggressive reengagement from governors and premiers to get emissions under control. The report suggests that a mandatory economy-wide carbon cap across all the NEG/ECP is required.
For More Information: Canadian Press