The ERP refers to the Emissions Reduction Plan published by the Federal Government on March 29, 2022. It presents Canada’s emissions reduction target for 2030, now set at 443 million tonnes (Mt) CO2eq. That reduction, if it were to be fully achieved, would represent a 40% reduction below the 2005 level. The 233-page ERP document provides details of some of the promised new climate policies and measures that the government says will allow us to meet that target.
The ERP, at page 89-91, provides what it calls a “notional pathway” for reducing emissions in each of Canada’s seven economic sectors. However, the document emphasizes that these numbers are “not sectoral targets” but just tentative projections “based on the best available information at this time”. The ERP offers no assurance to Canadians that these projected reductions can be achieved. Canada’s two largest emitting sectors are the oil and gas sector (26% of Canada’s total domestic emissions, released by oil and gas production activities within Canada) and the transportation sector (25% of the national total, including all road, rail, marine, and and domestic aviation). 50% of Canada’s total emissions are attributed to those two large sectors.
The annual level of oil and gas sector emissions reached 191 Mt in 2019. Of that amount, 83 Mt were released by oil sands production. The ERP document, at page 90, gives a projection showing that by 2030 oil and gas sector emissions could possibly be cut down to 110 Mt by 2030, which would be a 31 % reduction below their 2005 level (an 81 Mt reduction). But the ERP acknowledges that based on presently existing emissions-reduction measures and given current plans to continue increasing oil and gas production to 2030, the sector’s emissions are presently on track to be 187 Mt by 2030, a mere 4 Mt reduction below the 2019 level: see ERP, “Reference Case emissions projections”, Table 6.3 at p. 215.
In the case of the oil and gas sector, the ERP in Table 6.2 on page 213 provides data showing the planned increase of oil production to 2030. In the absence of immediate new measures that have the capability to significantly reduce GHG emissions per barrel during the production process, rising oil production to 2030 will be accompanied by growing emissions from the expanded extraction activities.
The ERP provides no analysis or data about the magnitude of promised emissions reductions from the oil and gas sector by 2030 that might be achieved by the adoption of CCUS technology. The document only briefly mentions CCUS (at pages 53 and 78 and in several other places). The only discussion that provides a quantitative measure of future reductions that might be achieved by using CCUS technology is at page 217, where the ERP notes that the government’s recent document (Budget 2021) indicates that the new CCUS tax credit is designed to achieve annual emissions reductions of at least 15 Mt by 2030.
Because of the disproportionately large size of oil and gas sector emissions in the Canadian economy (26% of the total) and given the limited prospects of achieving deep cuts in other sectors, if the promised deep emissions reductions in the oil and gas sector cannot be achieved by 2030, Canada will fail to meet its promised 40% reduction commitment.