Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

VIEW: What if Obama's new emissions rule was applied in Canada?

Wondering what U.S. President Barack Obama's new greenhouse gas rule would mean if applied to Canada? According to this Tyee editor, it turned out to be surprisingly hard to make anything but an apples-to-rutabagas comparison.

The new Environmental Protection Agency goal -- a reduction in carbon emissions of 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 -- applies only to emissions from electrical generating plants, power stations. The United States uses fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas for a far larger share of its power generation than hydro-blessed Canada.

As a result, that industry generates 40 per cent of the country's total greenhouse emissions. The Canadian electricity sector's share of this country's GHGs is only about 12 per cent. Even a 30 per cent reduction there would only drag down total national emissions by four per cent.

Canada's big-budget greenhouse items are transportation and the oil and gas sector. Together, they represent almost half, or 49 per cent, of our national emissions. Canada has set a new-vehicle fleet target for 2025 of releasing 50 per cent less greenhouse gasses than the 2008 model year, in line with U.S. policy.

The federal government has repeatedly promised to set emission-reduction targets for the country's largest and fastest-rising emitter, the oil and gas industry, but has not yet done so.

In the unlikely event that Canada were to adopt the same target the U.S. just set for its power industry for its oil and gas emissions, the industry, whose emissions were one-quarter of the national total in 2012, would need to reduce them by more than 50 megatons a year by 2030. That would be roughly the emissions-cutting equivalent of idling every third car, truck, train and aircraft in Canada.

Chris Wood, author of Down the Drain: How We Are Failing to Protect Our Water Resources and Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America, is a freelance writer living in Mexico. Wood is also editor for Tyee Solutions Society.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus