Canada will fail to reach its target for reducing greenhouse gases by 2020, according to a government report which predicted that emissions responsible for global warming will actually increase by seven percent over that time.
"The government's approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely to meet Canada's target for 2020," said Scott Vaughan, commissioner for Environment and Sustainable Development, in his report presented in the House of Commons.
Officials said the 2020 target had been to reduce Canada's emissions by 17 percent of 2005 levels, a goal that now appears unattainable.
The report follows an audit of national energy emissions which concluded that existing federal regulations are expected to reduce emissions by 11 to 13 million tonnes in 2020, but said an additional reduction of 178 million tonnes is needed to meet the target.
The report said one reason that the goal would not be reached is that it takes several years for regulations to be developed and to have an impact.
In light of the new figures, the Ottawa government said it would change its strategy to try to attain the 2020 target through sector-by-sector regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada withdrew from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was extended last year, obligating industrial nations, although not the United States, to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Vaughan suggested that more work needed to be done to plot alternative plans to avoid climate change.
"The government said it was withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol because remaining in it would be too costly to the Canadian economy," he said.
"We therefore expected the government would have estimated how much it will cost to meet its target and identified the least costly options."
Explore further: Lights out in Australia as Earth Hour kicks off