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    Trudeau Was a Global Climate Hero. Now Canada Risks Falling Behind.


    OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada will arrive for President Biden’s local weather summit on Thursday with an outsize status for being a warrior within the world struggle towards local weather change.

    However one side of Canada’s financial system complicates his document: the nation’s insistence on expanding output from its oil sands.

    Between Mr. Trudeau’s election in 2015 and 2019, Canada’s greenhouse fuel emissions elevated by 1 %, regardless of decreases in different wealthy nations throughout the identical interval, in line with authorities knowledge released last week. In truth, Canada is the one Group of seven nation whose emissions have risen because the Paris local weather settlement was signed six years in the past.

    Canadian officers insist that Mr. Trudeau’s insurance policies merely want extra time to work. However environmentalists counter that Canada can’t cut back emissions with out decreasing oil manufacturing from the sands.

    As one of many world’s largest oil reserves, the oil sands are additionally among the many most polluting, given the quantity of vitality required to extract it. But it surely’s unlikely that Mr. Trudeau would finish manufacturing there.

    The oil sands are integral to the financial system of the western province of Alberta. If Mr. Trudeau or some other Canadian politician declared them obsolete, the political backlash could be overwhelming.

    “There’s a disconnect, at the least on the worldwide stage, between Canada’s status on local weather and the fact of motion on the bottom,” mentioned Catherine Abreu, the chief director of Local weather Motion Community Canada, a coalition of about 100 labor, Indigenous, environmental and non secular teams. “We actually need to cease promoting ourselves that maybe comforting, however harmful, lie that there’s room for the oil sands sooner or later.”

    Tim McMillan, president and chief government of the Canadian Affiliation of Petroleum Producers, which represents oil firms, mentioned in a press release that common emissions per barrel of oil from the oil sands have decreased by 21 % since 2009, and are projected to drop additional.

    “The oil sands business is taking emissions discount severely,” Mr. McMillan mentioned. “Manufacturing development will be appropriate with emissions reductions.”

    Few dispute Mr. Trudeau’s commitment to stopping climate change. Canada elevated its carbon value — which provinces should undertake or have imposed by the federal authorities — to 40 Canadian {dollars} a metric ton this month and it’s scheduled to rise to 170 {dollars} by the tip of the last decade. The federal government has additionally moved ahead on clear gas requirements, in addition to limiting leaks of methane, a potent local weather change fuel, and different measures.

    On Monday, Canada mentioned it’s on observe for a 36 % emissions discount by 2030, in contrast with 2005 ranges.

    Mr. Trudeau’s actions contrasted starkly with america underneath President Donald J. Trump, who dismissed local weather change and reversed American insurance policies to fight it.

    Now Mr. Biden has made climate a central issue for his administration. On the summit, he’s anticipated to announce that america will reduce its greenhouse fuel emissions by about half by 2030, in contrast with 2005 ranges.

    Mr. Trudeau is predicted to announce a brand new discount goal for a similar interval, however few specialists anticipate him to match Mr. Biden’s reduce.

    The timing may depart Canada in a bind, in line with Dale Beugin, vice chairman for analysis and evaluation on the Canadian Institute for Local weather Selections, a nonpartisan analysis group.

    Mr. Trudeau’s pledge to lift the carbon tax to 170 Canadian {dollars}, introduced late final yr, is already seen as formidable, he mentioned.

    Canada might want to take extra measures, Mr. Beugin mentioned, as a result of Canada’s carbon tax, mixed with different current insurance policies, shall be “simply barely” sufficient for it to succeed in its present goal. “In the event that they go greater,” he requested, “what else are they going to do?”

    If Canada lags too far behind america in decreasing emissions, it may face repercussions, together with the imposition of U.S. carbon tariffs on Canadian items crossing the border, mentioned Jake Schmidt of the Pure Assets Protection Council, an environmental advocacy group.

    “It’ll be fairly apparent to the world who’s actually critical about local weather change and who’s taking half measures,” he added.

    Canada’s surroundings minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, declined to disclose the nation’s new goal upfront of the summit. However he cautioned towards judging international locations solely by the targets they current this week.

    The USA, he mentioned, is in a significantly better place to realistically suggest massive cuts within the close to time period, including whereas america was encouraging the world to disregard local weather change the previous few years, Canada was plowing ahead.

    “The USA maybe has some issues that it might be taught from the experiences that we’ve had,” he mentioned.

    Mr. Biden’s local weather agenda, Mr. Wilkinson argued, advantages from some low-hanging fruit: the massive quantity of electrical energy nonetheless produced by burning coal and different fossil fuels. The falling price of renewable vitality is already decreasing the usage of coal, pushing down U.S. emissions.

    “The USA, in some respects, has a reasonably large tail wind with respect to the rising phaseout of coal,” he mentioned.

    Canada, in contrast, way back largely cleaned up that sector. Right this moment about 82 percent of its electricity comes from sources that do not emit carbon, the biggest one being hydroelectric dams. In 2019, emissions from Canada’s electricity generation fell under oil sands emissions for the primary time.

    However what coal-fired energy is to america’ emissions profile, some say, the oil sands are to Canada’s.

    Mr. Wilkinson has acknowledged that Canada might want to make vital cuts to grease sands emissions, although it’s not solely clear how that may be achieved whereas sustaining and even rising oil exports, largely to america. He mentioned that america may even have to sort out emissions from its personal oil and fuel business, which is way bigger than Canada’s.

    Oil sands producers often spotlight their efforts to scale back the variety of emissions per barrel. However Andrew Leach, an vitality and surroundings economist on the College of Alberta, mentioned that the latest emissions enhancements within the oil sands have primarily come from initiatives that had been massive carbon emitters however not the biggest operations.

    Whereas there have been some reductions of oil sands emissions per barrel, the regular improve in manufacturing has greater than worn out these positive aspects.

    No initiatives up to now have used hydrogen to interchange the huge quantities of pure fuel used to separate the oil-bearing bitumen from rock and sand after which to course of it. And a closely promoted know-how to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground is just getting used at a single plant that turns bitumen into crude oil.

    “We nonetheless have an enormous problem,” mentioned Professor Leach. “You see individuals virtually declaring victory earlier than the primary battle’s been fought.”

    In its funds this week, Mr. Trudeau’s authorities put aside 2 billion Canadian {dollars} to supply Canadian industries a tax credit score for carbon seize, however its particulars nonetheless must be labored out.

    The provide comes a month after Jason Kenney, the Conservative premier of Alberta, referred to as on Mr. Trudeau’s authorities to offer 30 billion Canadian dollars for the development of carbon capture applied sciences.

    Whereas a step of that magnitude is perhaps common in Alberta, the place Mr. Trudeau attracts little help, it could possibly be seen as an oil business subsidy and alienate voters elsewhere in nation who help the Liberals, carbon taxes and different local weather measures.

    Many environmentalists in Canada say that moderately than subsidize the vitality business, Mr. Trudeau’s authorities ought to brazenly acknowledge that the oil sands are a declining business and begin specializing in managing that decline and investing in new job alternatives for its hundreds of staff.

    “Canada’s oil fuel sector produces a few of the dirtiest and most costly fossil fuels on the earth,” mentioned Ms. Abreu of Local weather Motion Community Canada. “It’s actually unrealistic for governments on this nation to maintain telling the general public that we are able to anticipate that business to proceed indefinitely.”

    Christopher Flavelle reported from Washington. Brad Plumer contributed reporting from Washington.



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