Canada excludes tar sands industry from greenhouse gas cuts

Canada excludes tar sands industry from greenhouse gas cuts
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Canadian leaders are pledging to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030 and are promising new regulations to achieve the target.

The goal, which is Canada’s official submission to the United Nations for the climate change agreement due to be signed in December in Paris, falls short of the United States’ pledge of a 26 percent to 28 percent reduction by 2025.

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Canada’s government said the goal is both fair to the country’s industries and ambitious.

“Canada’s ambitious new target and planned regulatory actions underscore our continued commitment to cut emissions at home and work with our international partners to establish an international agreement in Paris that includes meaningful and transparent commitments from all major emitters,” Canadian Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement after announcing the target in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“We will work cooperatively with the provinces and territories on these goals while respecting their jurisdiction,” she said.

The Canadian government said it will soon write new regulations on methane emitted from the oil and natural gas sectors, gas-fired power plants, and producers of chemicals and nitrogen fertilizers.

The standards for methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide, would align with rules that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is crafting.

Despite continued pressure from environmentalists, Canada’s conservative government is still refusing to regulate the greenhouse gases of its oil sands industry, which produces petroleum products in a carbon-intensive way and is pushing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to refineries in Texas.

The commitment also falls well short of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2009 pledge to cut greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050.

Greens said Canada’s target announced Friday does not go far enough, and they do not trust Harper’s conservative government.

“Canada’s climate target is less-than-meets-the-eye and another disappointing sign of its reluctance to fight climate change,” Danielle Droitsch, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Canada program, said in a statement. “Yet again, Canada blithely ignores addressing its largest source of climate pollution — its tar sands oil development.”

“Anyone who has paid attention to the Harper Government through the years should know better than to take them at their word on addressing climate change,” said David Turnbull, campaigns director at Oil Change International.