This article was published by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada on Nov. 7, 2023.
A report released today by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Jerry V. DeMarco concluded that Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan is insufficient to meet its 2030 target to reduce emissions by 40 per cent to 45 per cent below the 2005 level by 2030. This was the first plan developed under the new Canadian Net‑Zero Emissions Accountability Act.
In its most recent projections, Environment and Climate Change Canada revised the emission reductions it expected to achieve from the measures in the plan to 34 per cent below the 2005 level. This would fall short of the minimum 40 per cent target for 2030 that Canada committed to under the United Nations’ Paris Agreement on climate change.
The audit found the plan insufficient because key measures needed to meet the 2030 target were delayed or not prioritized. Responsibility for reducing emissions was fragmented among multiple federal entities not directly accountable to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, who is responsible for the plan. Although the minister can support and collaborate with other federal entities, the minister has no authority to commit other entities to do more. This makes progress and course correction difficult.
The audit found that the plan had potentially strong measures for reducing emissions, such as carbon pricing and regulations. However, it had many weaknesses, including missing and inconsistent information and unreliable projections that hindered the plan’s credibility. The transparency and reliability of the department’s economic and emission modelling—used for emission projections—have been repeatedly flagged by previous audits and by modelling experts as problematic.
“The federal government can still reduce emissions and meet its 2030 target with drive, focus, and leadership,” said Mr. DeMarco. “Implementing our recommendations would be a step in the right direction.”