P.E.I. is on the right track when it comes to meeting climate targets despite posting a slight emissions increase in the most recent data, one of the province’s top environmental officials says.
Greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1.6 per cent in 2019, the latest figures by Environment and Climate Change Canada show. That’s 28,000 more tonnes of greenhouse gases than the province produced in 2018, the equivalent of 6,000 gas-powered passenger vehicles over a single year.
But the growth rate of emissions has been slower than that of population and economy, a positive development according to Derek Ellis, director of the sustainability division at P.E.I. ‘s Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action.
“As our economy grows, we want to see those emissions go down,” he said. “We are starting to see that divergence between the two. Historically you’d see emissions mirror economic growth, so I think we like that trend of seeing the two diverging over time.”
From 2005 to 2019, the province reduced emissions by 14 per cent. The economy and population grew by 30 and 14 per cent respectively during the same time frame.
Almost half of the emissions in 2019 came from the transportation sector.
“We’ve really just begun to address transportation emissions,” Ellis said. “We want to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and you can do that by offering public transit and active transportation, so bike lanes, dedicated trails.… If you still need a vehicle after all those investments, we like to see those be electric vehicles.”
Ellis said the province is still on track to reach its target of cutting emissions to 1.2 megatonnes by 2030. But he added that the government’s current aim for net-zero emissions by 2040 is a different story.
“It’s certainly another discussion because that’s much more ambitious,” he said. “The emissions reductions will have to be significant so we’ll certainly have to be doing more than we’ve had before to reduce emissions across all sectors.”
More from CBC P.E.I.