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2014-04-12 at 16:39

Environmental impact

By Will Campbell, The Canadian Press
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TORONTO - An environmental analyst says the rise of oil and gas production as Canada's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions adds further weight to calls for the federal government to bring in long-promised regulations for the oil industry.

The Environment Canada report quietly released Friday reveals the energy sector has now surpassed transportation as the largest generator of the climate-change causing gases.

The report, covering the period from 1990 to 2012, states that oil and gas now account for one-quarter of Canada's greenhouse emissions, narrowly edging out transportation.

Analyst P.J. Partington with eco think-tank the Pembina Institute said the oil industry becoming Canada's biggest source of emissions underscores the need for the Harper government to make good on a longstanding pledge to bring in rules cutting the oil patch's climate impact.

"We can't hide from the challenge of regulating that sector. If Canada's going to play its role in the global fight against climate change there's no avoiding that we need to have strong regulations for our oil and gas sector," he said Saturday.

The country's overall emissions were down by less than one per cent between 2011 and 2012, the most recent year available, largely due to reductions in electricity and manufacturing.

Partington said the drop was something of a surprise, given Environment Canada had predicted an uptick. But he said it's too soon to say what direction the figure will go in the coming years.

Energy sector emissions have seen the biggest jump since 1990 — roughly 70 per cent — due entirely to crude oil and oilsands expansion, the report says. That's more than twice the growth rate of transportation-related greenhouse gases in the same period.

The Conservatives have agreed to chop GHG emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2020 as part of the international Copenhagen agreement, but Environment Canada has acknowledged that goal will be missed by nearly one-third.

With the deadline some five years away, the new greenhouse gas report shows that Canada's emissions are down five per cent since 2005, leaving Ottawa far off the target.

A serious push to regulate oil industry emissions is the only way to get Canada on track with the Copenhagen agreement, Partington said.

"We're simply not going to be able to meet our commitments without taking that action."

Another round of global climate talks are set for next year in Paris, and Partington said Ottawa may be in for yet another barrage of criticism unless it makes a serious effort at reducing oilsands emissions by then.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last year that oil and gas sector regulations will be announced "in the coming years."

Environmentalists and some scientists have renewed calls for immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions after last month's release of the Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change.

That document warned of looming disruptions such as shifting crop patterns and stated that delays in responding to climate change will only limit the number of options down the line.

The Canadian Press
© The Canadian Press, 2014

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We've improved our comment system.
bubba says:
Harper won't like this. And it's cold at my house so this must be wrong.
Let the games begin.
4/12/2014 6:51:25 PM
pc says:
I think if they went after China and the other countries for their green house gases the drop would be significant.
They go after Canada because we are the polite country and they think we will cave in to their demands.
Ont. already has the wind turbines and look at what that is costing us.
People complain about the price of gas now if we go the green route how are people here in the north with no mass transit supposed to get from place to place?
Solar panels on each house would not work as we do not get enough sun in the winter and who is going to go up on a roof to clear them off at -30 wind chill days?
Fuel costs for small towns would probably bankrupt them.
Road construction would be almost impossible to pay for so that would decrease. At least I think it would.
Or taxes will go even higher here in Ontario to pay for it.
When the greens can get their demands but have a viable option for an alternative then I say listen to them. Until then go Harper go.
4/13/2014 9:11:36 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
"narrowly edging out transportation" So transportation is still really high as well. Lets think about this. Our Forest industry has tanked, manufacturers are all in China and not in Canada, so what is left? Oil and Gas. Is it the biggest polluter because that's all that's left? How do we transport stuff in Canada? Truck, train, plane. Don't they need gas? Maybe I should get a horse? Oh...can't keep them in the city! And how are we compared to China, India, USA, etc? Maybe we should open the coal mines again? Ohhhhh that would be bad!
4/13/2014 9:46:32 AM
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