Note: It is impossible to do justice to the environmental debate without a bit of substance. For those of you too impatient to read these paragraphs, I have highlighted the key points in bold so that you can follow the train of the argument. - Admin
Environmentalists have made a lot of hot air in opposition to the Conservative government’s “intensity based” targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a stunning fact however: Kyoto Protocol reductions are also intensity based. Kyoto targets are based on population intensity (per capita emissions) whereas the new Conservative government plan is based on economic intensity (per production unit emissions). Both are “intensity based” formulas but according to Kyoto, the greater your population – the more right you have to pollute.
This is why a country like China (the 2nd largest emitter and soon to overtake the US as #1) is exempt from Kyoto reductions. As a “developing country” the world’s fourth largest economy spews 3650 megatonnes of GHG’s into the atmosphere every year. In contrast, Canada’s figures for the same time period are only 758 megatonnes. In terms of “absolute emissions” China emits 5 times as much as Canada, but they get a free pass (0 reductions required under Kyoto) because their population intensity is much higher than ours.
The same is true of other highly populated countries. In fact, the United States, China, Russia and India combined account for 50% of all emissions worldwide. For one reason or another, none of these countries fall under the reduction demands of the Kyoto Protocol. In contrast, if Canada spends billions to meet all of our Kyoto commitments right now, we would only reduce global emissions by .067%! That hardly seems fair.
One news report says “The official treaty to curb greenhouse-gas emissions hasn’t gone into effect yet and already three countries are planning to build nearly 850 new coal-fired plants, which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce. The magnitude of that imbalance is staggering. Environmentalists have long called the treaty a symbolic rather than practical victory in the fight against global warming.”
“By 2012, the plants in three key countries - China, India, and the United States - are expected to emit as much as an extra 2.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to a Monitor analysis of power-plant construction data. In contrast, Kyoto countries by that year are supposed to have cut their CO2 emissions by some 483 million tons… ‘If all those power plants are online by 2012, then obviously it completely cancels out any gains from Kyoto,’ says Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler with the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration”
“China is the dominant player. The country is on track to add 562 coal-fired plants - nearly half the world total of plants expected to come online in the next eight years. India could add 213such plants; the US, 72… If only those plants with start dates are built, then the expected emissions from the three nations would total only 1.2 billion tons of CO2, still more than double the required reduction from Kyoto.”
Perhaps the most telling is a statement by David Hawkins, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate center. In the same report quoted above he tells the research author: “The point is that a relatively small number of countries hold the fate of the planet in their hands in terms of climate change.” And that is exactly the point. Canada with her .067% impact on global warming pales in comparison to the giant emitters like the US, China, Russia and India (all of whom are exempt)!
The new Conservative EcoAction Plan did not kill Kyoto – that happened 10 years ago when the Liberals signed the protocol and watched emissions go up year after year! What the new government has done is finally stopped propping up the corpse. It’s time for the Suzuki Foundation, Climate Action Network, the Sierra Club, et al to finally admit they’ve been courting a dead issue for the better part of a decade.
The Conservatives have put forward a realistic, forward-thinking plan that (get this) will actually start reducing emissions. It is absolutely time to “Turn the Corner” and get on board with “the least flawed alternative for a government stuck on a tightrope between end-ofthe- world environmentalists and pivotal industries hooked on carbon discharge.” (1) Various news organizations reported yesterday Minister Baird’s declaration “‘What we’re representing today does meet Kyoto, if today was 1997. But the reality is that I didn’t decide to do nothing in 1997,’ Baird said. ‘I can’t take responsibility for 10 lost years, but I can fully accept our responsibilities today and we’re doing just that.’”