The year 2020: A global paradise or more of the status quo?

The Canadian Press ~ The News
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Environment

The year 2020: people in Canada and the world will breathe cleaner air, deforestation will be halted in Brazil, malaria will be eradicated in the Caribbean and astronauts will head back to the moon.

That's assuming all the best laid plans, good intentions and government targets come to fruition.

The world could look like a very different place in 10 years, as Canadian and world leaders have set 2020 as a goal for many ambitious targets. But already some cracks are starting to show in the vision of Earth as Eden.

TORONTO -

The year 2020: people in Canada and the world will breathe cleaner air, deforestation will be halted in Brazil, malaria will be eradicated in the Caribbean and astronauts will head back to the moon.

That's assuming all the best laid plans, good intentions and government targets come to fruition.

The world could look like a very different place in 10 years, as Canadian and world leaders have set 2020 as a goal for many ambitious targets. But already some cracks are starting to show in the vision of Earth as Eden.

Among the most contentious targets is greenhouse gas emission reductions. Provincially and nationally in Canada, as well as in countries around the world politicians have pledged to reduce emissions by varying percentages by 2020.

The federal government has said it aims to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by then. But most other developed countries are pledging cuts over levels from 1990, when global emissions were much lower. If Canada's target is put in that framework it amounts to a three-per-cent reduction.

Yet environmental groups doubt whether even that target will be achieved.

"Much stronger policies are needed to reach the 2020 target than what are on the table and even being envisioned," said Dale Marshall, a climate change policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation.

"We haven't actually had any policies implemented, but even if the proposed policies were implemented, and that's a big if at this point ... they still wouldn't be strong enough."

Matthew Bramley, director of the climate change program at the Pembina Institute, said there is a "gulf" between what is needed and what the federal government seems willing to do.

The government has delayed even coming out with draft greenhouse gas regulations for years, Bramley said.

"It's one thing to adopt a target," he said. "It's another thing to actually put in place the policies needed to meet the target."

Futurist Richard Worzel - an expert in planning, not a clairvoyant - said there's no such thing as a firm target unless there's a consequence.

"Saying, 'We're going to do this by 2020' is useless unless you also say, 'And if we don't we're going to do this,"' Worzel said.

Many Canadian provinces have set strict 2020 targets for greenhouse gas emissions, but Ontario's environmental commissioner said this week that even if Ontario does everything it has promised to cut emissions, it still won't meet its 2020 target of a 15-per-cent cut over 1990 levels.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has tried to prod Canada into setting a more ambitious target, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada's target must be in line with that of its trading partner, the United States. The White House has said the U.S. will reduce emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

A panel of UN scientists has recommended that developed countries cut between 25 and 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to avoid a catastrophic rise in sea levels, harsher storms and droughts and climate disruptions.

Organizations: David Suzuki Foundation, UN, Pembina Institute

Geographic location: Canada, TORONTO, Brazil Caribbean Ontario United States

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments