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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to slash Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45% below the country’s 2005 levels over the next decade. 

Speaking to a virtual audience during the Leaders Summit on Climate, convened by US President Joe Biden on Thursday, Trudeau said that the new goal would put Canada on track to “blow past” its previous target of 30% reduction set by former Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in 2015.

He added that the fight against climate change remained a top priority for Canada under its current plan to reach carbon neutrality, move away from fossil fuels, and create green jobs as a way to drive the COVID-19 recovery. 

"Our priority continues to be battling COVID-19,” Trudeau said. “We rely on science to save lives and develop vaccines, but we must also listen to climate science, which tells us we're facing an existential threat."

Trudeau’s announcement comes shortly after similar pledges from the UK and the US, which vowed to curb their emissions by 78% and 50% respectively by 2030. 

Advocates contend that, while a 40 to 45% reduction target brings Canada closer to meeting the recommendations of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it still falls short of what is needed to effectively address the issue.

Groups like Climate Action Network Canada have repeatedly called on the government to commit to a 60% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“It’s good to see Canada driving up ambition, and it’s not enough. The new target is not aligned with 1.5 degrees Celsius – that would require a 60% emissions reduction goal,” Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, said in a statement.

“Canada not only needs to improve its climate targets but also pass strong legislation to meet those targets,” she added, in reference to Bill C-12, legislation that could oblige Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to set five-year targets to report back on Canada’s emissions reduction.

In the lead-up to the summit, other organizations like World Vision Canada have stressed the need to ramp up international climate funding as a way to address the ripple effects of climate change on some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

While Trudeau hasn’t yet announced Canada's international climate finance pledge, a release points out that the issue of climate adaptation sits at the top of the government’s agenda.

“Canada has been steadfast in its commitment to support mitigation and adaptation efforts of developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable and, in the months ahead, will build on the $2.65 billion climate finance pledge made over the last five years with commitments that will help those already being affected by climate change to adapt,” the release read


Defend the Planet

Canada Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by at Least 40% at Earth Day Climate Summit

By Sarah El Gharib