Environment commissioner expected to slam Tories

Climate change experts are expecting the federal environment commissioner to take a critical view of the government's policies on greenhouse gases when he tables his latest report this morning.

Environment commissioner Scott Vaughan's 2012 report will be tabled in the House of Commons. It has three chapters that deal with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, Canada's 2020 climate change targets and federal contaminated sites.

"In this case, it's a file where consistently the federal government hasn't been living up to its promises," says Matt Horne, the Pembina Institute's acting director of climate change.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) says it thinks the commissioner's report will take the government to task but insisted that shouldn't detract from the progress Ottawa has made.

Dave Sawyer, IISD's director of climate and energy, says the government has moved closer to achieving its targets, but he also sees a difficult trail ahead.

"When you look at the path we're travelling down, one would wonder whether or not we can hit the target with the current path, the regulatory path," says Sawyer.

The commissioner is bound by law to report on Canada's progress in implementing the Kyoto Protocol even though the government pulled out of the agreement last year. This will be his final report on Kyoto.

As for the 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) targets of 17 per cent below 2005 levels, Sawyer and Horne are both skeptical about the government's ability to meet them.

"There's a lot of talk about the targets and not nearly enough action on achieving them," Horne says.

The main problem, Horne says, is the government's sector by sector regulatory approach to GHGs. The system takes too long and the oil and gas sector — where GHGs are increasing the most — doesn't even have regulations yet.

External Links

International Institute for Sustainable Development
Pembina Institute