Climate change caused by emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from human activities is one of the greatest threats to people, economies and ecosystems in the 21st century. The international community must undertake a determined effort over several decades to cut emissions to a small fraction of their current level.

As a first step, industrialized countries agreed to near-term emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. In ratifying the protocol, Canada accepted a legal obligation to reduce its GHG emissions to 6% below the 1990 level during 2008-12. Analysis shows that Canada must go on to reduce its emissions to 80% below the 1990 level by 2050 if it is to play a responsible part in the global emission reduction effort.