Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Lagging Far Behind

While people love to hear our sunny Prime Minister reassure us with his rosy rhetoric, it is becoming increasingly evident that his words mean little when it comes to climate change. And the most shocking revelation, as reported by The National Observer, is that those notorious climate-change laggards, the Americans, are well ahead of us in their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 1990, Americans have cleaned up their climate pollution — per person — twice as fast as Canadians. Americans have come from well behind in the climate race to catch up and current estimates show they have probably passed us already.

According to the most recent official inventory reports, the Americans pulled into a virtual tie with Canadians in 2015, at just over 20 tonnes of CO2 (tCO2) per person.

And according to recent estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, America's emissions fell another 1.7 per cent in 2016. They project a further decline in 2017. If so, Americans are now below the twenty tonne mark per person.
So what's going on here?
The reason the Yanks are beating us is that we have been dragging our feet for decades. Since 1990, Canadians have reduced our climate pollution by just 10 per cent per person while Americans cleaned up by 20 per cent; Europeans by 30 per cent; and the British by 40 per cent.

At this rate it will take 150 years before our climate pollution per person falls to the amount that Europeans emit now.
The reason for Canada's poor results are to be found in the usual suspects, oil and gas production and thee transportation sector.
Combined, these two sectors now emit 10 tCO2 per Canadian — that's more than Europeans, Chinese or Indians emit for everything.

The second key message is that these two sectors have become even more climate polluting — per Canadian — since 1990. That's wiped out much of the gains made elsewhere.
Our addiction to oil, our government thralldom to the fossil fuel sector, and our own heedless purchases of trucks and SUVs are all factors in poor showing.

A recent poll by Environics Research revealed that increasing numbers of Canadians think reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be a “guiding principle” in developing natural resources.
An overwhelming majority of respondents supported renewable energy sources, such as solar (93 per cent), hydro electricity (91 per cent) and wind projects (86 per cent). Support for non-renewable energy, such as oil (63 per cent) and nuclear power (45 per cent), was considerably weaker.
However, the Liberals' avidity for a second pipeline that will only further promote greenhouse gas emissions is perhaps suggested by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr's spokesperson, Alexandre Deslongchamps:
“We are in the midst of an energy transformation that will require all sources of energy to ensure Canada is a global leader in the low-carbon economy”.
Huh? All sources? Really?

Actions always speak louder than words, and the actions thus far coming from this government suggest little other than a bit of window dressing (low carbon taxes) while the world continues to burn.

In other words, it's business as usual.


  1. You can't have it both ways with fossil fuels, Lorne. Justin believes he can split the difference. He can't.

    1. While few things in life are black and white, Owen, the issues surrounding climate change seem to be.

  2. It's double-talk, Lorne, and our prime minister, like his predecessors, is a master at the game. Whether it's neoliberal globalism or the petro-economy they simply have no Plan B.

    When the freshly minted prime minister and his enviromin showed up in Paris in 2015 they made grandiose pronouncements of what we were going to do, how we were no longer the Canada of Harper. They argued, convincingly, for bold new targets. 1.5C instead of 2.0C to the cheers of the crowd.

    Few heard Schellnhuber in the background warning that the only way to achieve these targets was through the "induced implosion" of the fossil energy industry. He meant nothing less than governments of petro-states closing down their industries, severing the trade in fossil fuels.

    What we wound up with was a government willing to overlook its promises of 'social licence,' First Nations consultation, cleaning out the blatantly corrupt National Energy Board and working to push through every pipeline possible (save for the Northern Gateway) from Energy East, to Keystone XL to the grossly expanded Kinder Morgan. And then, in a gem of sophistry worthy of Trump himself, he proclaims the path to Canada's green future lies from ramping up extraction, transmission and sale of the world's highest cost, highest carbon ersatz petroleum, bitumen. And he does it all with such grand sincerity.

    1. It is likely his apparent sincerity is part of what enables Trudeau to get away with some of these whoppers, Mound. All of us lose when power isn't held to account for the betrayal of the planet.