Newfoundland and Labrador appears to be very good at setting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. As to meeting them, not so much. Its recently released climate plan, “The Way Forward on Climate Change in Newfoundland and Labrador”, hopes to change that, but it is once again rich on targets and poor on strategies to reach them.
“The Way Forward” is the overarching title for the province’s strategic plan. “The Way Forward on Climate Change” is the latest in a series of “The Way Forward” plans addressing issues ranging from agriculture to technology.
The province has set many climate targets, and it’s on track to miss all of them. In 2007, the province said it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. This climate plan acknowledges that the province won’t get there.
Current projections also forecast that the province won’t come close to reducing emissions by 30% below 2005 levels, which aligns with the federal government’s target. The climate plan also has a target of 35% to 45% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 75% to 85% below 2001 levels by 2050.
If there’s good news, it’s that the province appears to have decoupled economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. Between 1990 and 2016, the province’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 74%, while emissions grew by only 13.4%. With the completion of the Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project and the forthcoming closure of the Holyrood Generating Station, 98% of the province’s electricity will be emissions-free, the climate plan states.
Under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the province has imposed a carbon price on fossil fuels and performance standards for large industrial facilities and large-scale electricity generation. Both kicked in January 1, 2019.
The climate plan outlines a long list of measures the province will take over the next five years that, it says, will bring it closer to its 2030 target, but it does not attach projected reductions to any of them. It says, simply, that “achieving our vision requires new action and sustained effort over time.”
Nonetheless, the climate plan has been welcomed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association. In a statement, Executive Director Kieran Hanley said “it is important that government explicitly outlines its climate change priorities, as it has done today.”