Emissions From Trudeau’s Travels Not Being Systematically Tracked, Say Feds

Emissions From Trudeau’s Travels Not Being Systematically Tracked, Say Feds
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks toward a government plane in Ottawa on Nov. 17, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Noé Chartier

The federal government is not systematically tracking the carbon footprint related to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s travels nor that of other ministers, according to information tabled in the House of Commons on Jan. 30.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis asked in December for data on the amount of emissions produced by Trudeau and his staff in the course of their travel and work, as well as that of other ministers. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a whole-of-society approach is one of the main priorities of the Liberal government.

“Producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information that is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information,” was the reply to an Inquiry of Ministry from Liberal MP Greg Fergus, who serves as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister.

“Prime Ministers have a responsibility to meet and hear directly from Canadians in their communities to ensure the government continues to deliver on their priorities,” Fergus said.

The federal government releases air travel emissions data on a departmental level, but travel from ministers is not captured since it’s being booked outside the centralized travel booking service.

Departments which produce over one kilotonne of greenhouse gas emissions per year are required to purchase credits and contribute to the Greening Government Fund. Hence, taxpayers can foot the bill for travel and also green credits.

Most departments and agencies responding to Genuis’s query provided a similar response to Fergus, noting the difficulty in tracking the information, but some did provide their emissions data.

Employment and Social Development Canada provided data since 2015 broken down by ministers.

It says that from January 2022 to Dec. 5, 2022 (the date the query was submitted), the Minister of Seniors produced 2,968 kg of CO2e (e=equivalent), the Minister of Families 4,059 kg CO2e, the Minister of Labour 2,523 kg CO2e, and the Minister of Employment 2,062 kg CO2e.

Natural Resources Canada says the average Canadian vehicle releases about 4,600 kg CO2 in the atmosphere every year.

The only other department to provide data is Immigration Canada. It says its ministers produced 0.0245 kilotons (or 24,500 kg) of emissions in 2022 up to Dec. 5, 2022.

The Trudeau government is aiming to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, using measures such as banning the sale of new gas vehicles by 2035 or moving workers out of the oil and gas industry through its upcoming “just transition” legislation.

Current measures in place include “putting a price on pollution” with the carbon tax.

The Liberals say Canadians can receive more money every year through carbon tax rebates, but this has been disputed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The PBO wrote in March 2022 that most households suffer a net loss from the program.