NDCs refers to the commitments made by Canada and many other counties under the December 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce the annual level of their national greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The commitments are voluntary and are not binding.
Canada’s original NDC was a 30% cut by 2030, below the 2005 level. That required that our national emissions be reduced to 513 million tonnes (Mt) by 2020 (the 2005 level was 739 Mt). According to the ERP document published on March 29, 2022, Canada’s total emissions are currently expected to be 659 Mt by 2030, based on all climate policy measures so far implemented in Canada: see ERP, Reference Case Emissions Projections, Table 6.3, p. 215. Therefore, at present, Canada is not on track to meet even its earlier 30% reduction commitment.
In April 2021, the Federal Government announced that it would increase Canada’s NDC to a promised 40% or 45% reduction by 2030. Recently, our NDC was fixed at the lower 40% level. Given that Canada’s actual emissions in 2019 totalled 730 Mt (which represented only a 0.5% reduction below the 2005 level over fourteen years), it remains highly uncertain, to say the least, whether we can achieve the required 278 Mt of deep cuts required over the next nine years.
The NDC commitments refer only to a country’s domestic emissions, namely the GHG gases released by industrial and other economic activities within the country’s own national borders. Accordingly, the emissions reduction commitments (the NDCs) do not apply to the emissions attributed to exported crude oil, coal, or natural gas, where in the case of Canada’s oil sands bitumen 85% of the emissions are only released into the atmosphere once the product is product is burned and burned as fuel in foreign markets. That is why industry and political figures in Canada say that we do not need to “count” the emissions released into the atmosphere by our exported oil.