* Figures show emissions set to increase steadily
* Tar sands development booming, so are greenhouse gases
* Canada says will balance environment with need for jobs
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, Aug 8 Canada must do much more to meet
its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gases, given rising
emissions as the energy sector develops the oil-rich tar sands
of northern Alberta, government officials said on Wednesday.
Canada, the biggest single supplier of oil and gas to the
United States, says it will cut output of greenhouse gases by 17
percent of 2005 levels by 2020, a goal that's far less stringent
than the international targets Canada abandoned last year.
New figures released on Wednesday show that Canada is half
way to meeting its own target. But emissions will rise steadily
from now until 2020 unless more action is taken.
"Much work remains and we need everyone to stay on board so
we can close the gap and reach our ultimate goal," Environment
Minister Peter Kent told reporters.
"(We) will continue to work with our partners to address the
remaining major sources of emissions ... our talks have
progressed very quickly with the oil and gas sector -- both
conventional and the oil sands."
Canada last year formally abandoned the Kyoto protocol on
global warming, arguing that the treaty was unfair because it
did not include major emitters like China and India.
Ottawa promised to introduce draft regulations on the oil
and gas industries in 2013 and Kent said that target date still
stood. He said he was planning discussions with the steel and
Talk of big cuts in greenhouse gas output is a challenge for
the right-of-center Conservative government, which says it wants
to balance environmental protection with its desire to create
jobs and turn Canada into an energy superpower.
Critics accused the Conservatives of pandering to the energy
industry and said Ottawa needed to take more radical action.
"Canadians need to demand a government that works towards a
safe and renewable energy future, not a puppet for polluters,"
said Christian Holz of the Climate Action Network Canada.
Debate over energy policy in Canada usually revolves around
the massive tar sands of Alberta, the world's third largest
proven oil reserve. Separating the oil from the sands requires
large amounts of steam and water, an extraction method that
produces more greenhouse gases than conventional methods.
The government figures showed emissions from the oil sands
would rise 226 percent between 2005 and 2020, accounting for
more than 17 percent of all projected greenhouse gas output in
2020 assuming Canada meets its target.
Pressed to say how energy firms might cut emissions, Kent
said the oil sands sector had "an aspirational goal" of reducing
output to the level of the conventional sector.
He cited likely technological advances, but gave no details,
and said regulations to reduce emissions from coal-fired power
plants would be released in the next few weeks.
The opposition Liberal party said the figures were "a joke"
and noted they had been revised to show emissions in 2010 were
significantly lower than previously estimated.
"This is nothing more than a shell game. The government has
changed the accounting rules in order to declare success," said
Kirsty Duncan, the party's spokeswoman on the environment.
In May, Parliament's environmental watchdog said Canada was
acting too slowly to combat climate change and had little chance
of achieving its 2020 target.