A new paper from the Mowat Centre, funded by the Metcalf Foundation, argues that Canada’s persistent inability to meet self-imposed greenhouse gas emission reduction targets stems not so much from a lack of will but rather from institutional challenges. Currently, Canada has fourteen separate federal, provincial and territorial climate change policies, which need to be aligned in order to be effective. The problem, according to The Road to Paris: Navigating the intergovernmental path to our climate commitments is that Canada’s existing intergovernmental institutions are, not up to the task.
The solution proposed by the reports authors, Erich Hartmann, Caleb Holden, and Michael Crawford Urban lies in the creation of a new intergovernmental institution. This new institution would use evidence-based analysis to advise the fourteen separate governments on how to advance their policies within a national framework. Additionally, because the cost of climate mitigation is born unequally across the country, it would guide federal spending so as to mitigate the economic impact of emissions reductions and assist in sharing the burden of the economic impacts that emission reduction policies engender.
Under the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement, Canada has committed to reducing the level of GHG emissions 30 per cent under 2005 levels by 2030. In 2016, a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) was signed by the federal government and all provinces and territories, with Manitoba and Saskatchewan being the only exceptions. While a step in the right direction, the report states that the PCF itself will not be sufficient to meet Canada’s Paris commitments. Furthermore the authors warn, there is a “very real risk” that the PCF could be “derailed by political paralysis” or not be as effective as anticipated.
The Road to Paris makes the case that new and innovative intergovernmental institutional frameworks are required to overcome various obstacles – such as diverging regional interests and significant economic diversity – that have “scuttled previous efforts”.