Pembina Reacts: Government of Canada Accepts Science-Based Limit on Global Warming

July 8, 2009
Media Release

Clare Demerse, Associate Director of the Pembina Institute's climate change program, made the following statement in response to today's Government of Canada statement that "Canada recognizes the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2°C":

"This is a welcome statement from Canada. The impacts of climate change beyond the 2°C threshold are projected to be catastrophic, especially for some of the world's poorest people.

Until today, Canada had never taken a position on what level of global warming is too dangerous. Thanks to pressure from its G8 peers, Canada has now accepted what scientists and leading countries have been saying for years.

This statement has clear implications for Canada's national greenhouse gas targets. Canada's current targets fall far short of a fair contribution to a 2°C limit and need to be strengthened urgently to make today's commitment real. (Please see "Target Details" below.)

The Prime Minister's language in this statement still does not clearly link the recognition of the science with the action we need to take. There's a big difference between saying ‘I recognize the broad medical opinion that healthy eating matters' and ‘I'm going on a diet tomorrow.'

At this week's G8 summit, Prime Minister Harper should build on this statement by publicly recognizing that a global 2°C limit means Canada must strengthen its national emissions targets. Canada has the opportunity to call for stronger targets in a G8 declaration expected today and a Major Economies Forum (MEF) declaration expected tomorrow.

A 2008 study by M.K. Jaccard and Associates , an economic modelling firm the government has used for its own analysis, shows that Canada could meet a 2020 target aligned with a 2°C degree limit (a 25% reduction in net emissions by 2020, relative to the 1990 level) while growing its economy by 2% per year and adding over a million net new jobs from 2010 to 2020. A majority of MPs in the House of Commons also supported targets aligned with a 2°C pathway in an April vote on private member's bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act."


The Pembina Institute is a non-partisan sustainable energy think tank.

Target Details:
Analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's most authoritative body on the science and economics of climate change, shows that industrialized countries need to cut their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 in 2020, and 80-95% below 1990 in 2050, to have a chance of staying within the 2 degree limit. Canada's current targets are equivalent to just 3% below the 1990 level in 2020 and 51-64% below 1990 in 2050.

For more information contact:
Clare Demerse, Pembina Institute
Associate Director, Climate Change Program
613-762-7449 (cell)
011-39-441-763-0373 (local number in Italy)

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