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Canada’s 2020 emissions data shows impact of COVID—but also climate policy

VICTORIA — Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to Canada’s submission to the United Nations of its 2022 National Inventory Report on greenhouse gas emissions.

“We welcome the news that Canada’s national greenhouse gas emissions dropped nearly 9% in 2020. While most of the 66-megatonne decline is due to COVID-related lockdown measures, it is worth noting that Canada’s 2020 emissions drop was greater than the global decline of 6% to 7%.

“Climate action explains, to some degree, why Canada’s reductions were greater. A significant seven-megatonne emissions decline in electricity, for example, can largely be attributed to phasing out coal power, notably in Alberta.

“That said, we could instead be analyzing 2021 data right now. The U.K. publishes provisional emissions data three months after the reported-on year ends—essentially a year faster than our current reporting timeline. Canada should follow suit. As we’ve learned with COVID, up-to-date data better informs decision-making. It also makes governments more accountable as the impacts of their policies are more closely tracked.

“Moving forward, the rapid implementation of the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Plan will be paramount if we’re to make significant annual emissions declines a regular occurrence—no global pandemic required.”

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