A change in direction is needed if Canada is to meet its emissions-reduction targets, according to a new report by veteran earth scientist David Hughes.

The Group of of Seven (G7) — an intergovernmental organization consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — is meeting at the G7 Summit later this month. Canada and the U.S. are the only G7 countries that have not reduced emissions since signing the 2016 Paris Accord on Climate Change. In fact, Canada has shown the greatest emissions increase during this time.

The oil and gas sector alone will cause Canada to exceed its Paris agreement target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2030, set by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent climate summit, and the “net zero” by 2050 target in Bill C-12.

This new report uses the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) oil and gas production forecasts and the Canadian government’s submission to the United Nations on 2019 emissions, to project emissions from the sector to 2050. Even in the CER’s “Evolving Scenario”, which assumes that governments will continue to introduce new policies over time to address emissions reduction targets.

“We can only achieve our emissions targets if oil and gas production is significantly reduced from the CER’s projected levels,” said Hughes. “Pursuing policies that encourage production growth, such as the $12.6 billion TMX pipeline expansion project and LNG exports, will ensure that Canada will not meet its emissions reduction commitments.”

Last month the International Energy Agency also said investments in new oil and gas developments must stop immediately if the world is to meet its goal of net-zero emissions and limit the worst impacts of climate change. It called for a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin economies around the world.

The report, Canada’s Energy Sector: Status, evolution, revenue, employment, production forecasts, emissions and implications for emissions reduction, highlights that although oil and gas production is at record highs, the return in the form of jobs and government revenue have dramatically fallen. It was co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, with the Corporate Mapping Project, The Parkland Institute, Stand.earth, West Coast Environmental Law and 350.org.

Hughes also points out that the oil and gas sector employment is down from its peak in 2014 and that the sector is contributing much less to government revenues than it once did. “Because of technological advances, the sector needs fewer workers than before, so those jobs are unlikely to return to previous levels.”

In addition, Hughes raises questions about the efficacy of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the scale required, and purchasing carbon offsets, two approaches the federal government increasingly points to as solutions to address the climate crisis.

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