WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Canada’s official environmental watchdog on Thursday criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for inconsistent and ill-conceived efforts to slow climate change.
Canada has never achieved a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Trudeau government, in power since 2015, announced that it would reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 from 2005 levels and make Canada carbon neutral by 2050.
“Over the past 30 years, Canada has moved from being a climate leader to that of other developed countries despite recent efforts,” said Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Jerry DeMarco.
Severe flooding in British Columbia this month, which some experts have linked to climate change, has killed at least four people and washed away railroads and roads.
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The government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2018, to complete an expansion that has met with strong opposition, “is an example of political inconsistency with progress towards climate commitments.” DeMarco wrote in a report.
The proposed extension of the pipeline, which almost triples its capacity, is still under construction. Trudeau says Canada will still need fossil fuels for decades to come, adding that the purchase would help the energy-producing province of Alberta.
DeMarco also criticized a program from the Department of Natural Resources’ Emissions Reduction Fund, which aimed to financially support oil and gas companies struggling with low prices last year, while ramping up efforts to reduce emissions.
The program was not designed to ensure sustainable emission reductions or value for money, he wrote.
In a joint statement, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson defended the government’s efforts.
“We are confident that we have laid the groundwork (…) to take Canada’s climate fight to the next level,” they said.
The Trudeau government introduced a price on carbon and announced its intention to cap emissions from the oil and gas sector.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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