25 April 2016

Canada earns a D for environment

Last week the Conference Board of Canada released its environment report card and Canada did not do well. We earned a D, ranking third from last against 15 of our international peers. The only countries that performed worse were Australia and the U.S. The best performer of the provinces was Ontario with a B. Five provinces flunked.

To evaluate performance, the Conference Board applied 10 indicators that covered four broad categories: air pollution, waste, freshwater management, and climate change.

Regarding climate change, Prime Minister Trudeau signed off on the Paris agreement during a ceremony at the United Nations in New York on Friday with some stirring words: "Today, with my signature, I give you our word that Canada's efforts will not cease. Climate change will test our intelligence, our compassion and our will. But we are equal to that challenge." I hope he's right, but given that Canada scored particularly low on greenhouse gas emissions on the report card, we have a long way to go.

The Pembina Institute found one source of optimism in its evaluation of the report. Alberta's past performance earned it a D-, but the Institute predicts the province's new Climate Leadership Plan will turn things around. According to its analysis, greenhouse gas emissions "will clearly see improvement with the implementation of the plan. Improvements will also be seen in energy efficiency and production of low emitting electricity, with the combined efforts of the new energy efficiency program, the coal phase-out and a renewable energy production target of 30 per cent by 2030."

We can but hope that the Mr. Trudeau's plan for the country will generate similar optimism.

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