Monday, May 28, 2007

Shell Game

Seperating rhetoric from reality, The Pembina Institute weighs in, with a detailed analysis of the Conservative Green Plan. It's an interesting read, particularly when contrasted with Conservative claims made again today in Question Period. "One of the toughest plans in the world"? You be the judge:
The government’s use of a 2006 base year makes its targets for 2020 and 2050 seem superficially impressive. But 1990 is the internationally accepted base year for emission reduction commitments4. Table 1 shows that changing the base year from 1990 to 2006 results in a misleading impression of the adequacy of the targets; it also amounts to an attempt to relinquish responsibility for Canada’s estimated 27% increase in emissions during that period.

Instead of 20% reduction in GHG's by 2020, we actually see a 2% rise by 2020, if we use the same point of reference as the rest of the world, including the Americans :)

How does the government's plan stack up with other countries? Are we really leading the world?:
Analysis of reasonable ways to share out emission reductions between developed and developing countries as part of a global effort to avoid crossing the 2ºC threshold shows that developed countries must reduce their GHG emissions by at least 25% below the 1990 level by 2020 and at least 80% below by 2050.5 When the Government of Canada tells the world that it intends to fall far short of these requirements, it is sending one of three possible messages: either (i) we do not accept the science of climate change, or (ii) we consider the severe impacts expected with more than 2ºC of warming to be acceptable, or (iii) other countries will have to do more to make up for Canada doing less.

Second, the European Union’s heads of government have endorsed the objective of reducing the EU’s GHG emissions to 30% below the 1990 level by 2020, in line with the science, “provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions.” Meanwhile, they have adopted a target 20% below the 1990 level irrespective of other countries’ actions.7 Germany,8 the United Kingdom9 and Norway10 have already committed to stronger targets than this for 2020. For 2050, Norway is proposing to eliminate 100% of its emissions,11 while France and California have committed to 75–80% reductions below the 1990 level.1

Other highlights, or low points, depending on your political leanings:
The Conservatives' environment plan favours the oil sands, leaves taxpayers to foot the bill for industry, and doesn't explain how any drop in greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved, says a leading environment group.

Pembina says the government's new framework treats the sector too easily compared to other industries: the oil sands will have permission to triple its emissions; taxpayers will foot about half of the cost of carbon capture and storage despite the sector being more than able to find the cash; and a vague ‘unintentional fugitive emissions' that currently make up about a quarter of sector emissions are exempt.

The analysis also found several ways that emission cuts could be double-counted to make it look like more was being done.

Pembina concludes that the numbers are creation, to paint a picture of aggressive action. The study goes further, the "dubious" targets aren't even reliable, when you factor in the problems with accountability, loopholes and double-dipping. It is hard to take the Conservatives seriously, when the sector that has contributed the most to the recent spike in GHG's is given preferential treatment.

Conclusion: The only people who argue that Canada is "leading the world" are government officials, and apologists who ape the disingenious rhetoric. Then again, these are just another group of experts, who has spent their entire careers investigating the issue, what do they know?


Canadian Tar Heel said...

Good post.

Emily said...

Too bad your format doesn't allow me to print this post. Can't e-mail to the stubborn old ones who should take a look at this.

Canadian Tar Heel said...

Hey Steve,

I think that I may actually know what Tomm was getting at in the last thread regarding the “line in the sand” metaphor. The Kyoto Protocol carries very little in the way of substantive value and progress. In fact, this was one of the Republican Party’s justifications for not signing the agreement. The US, and in particular, some states have higher standards than what Kyoto calls for. Moreover, the Protocol provides little to nothing in the way of compliance. Accordingly, the line of signing or not signing the Kyoto Protocol has little substantive value, and resembles a line in the sand in this respect.

However, the Protocol does offer a large amount of symbolic value. It’s extremely difficult to get multilateral agreements moving on the international scene, and Kyoto, at the very lest, provides an indication of wide appeal with respect to one issue – the environment. In other words, Kyoto is an extremely humble start, but one necessary in order to bring as many countries on board as possible. Also, it is a chance for wealthier countries to show off and brag in relation to a good cause.

Consequently, there are a number of questions, which the CPC government needs to answer. If it truly wishes to increase Canada’s diplomatic clout, then why isn’t it doing a better job of jockeying for position on the Kyoto Protocol? Does the government continue to believe that it can off-set Canada’s forests (as carbon storage and use) in relation to our emissions’ percentage? Why hasn’t the CPC sought to garner wider support from the opposition parties on the issue, which they all purport to support (as it would likely serve as PR coup in the Conservatives’ favour)? And I’m sure you can think of many other questions.

Just some food for thought.

Steve V said...

"In other words, Kyoto is an extremely humble start, but one necessary in order to bring as many countries on board as possible."

I completely agree tarheel. However, we are negotiating the next phase, so Kyoto is old news in my mind. The Pembina study speaks about emissions reductions, outlined by Baird, which has nothing to do with Kyoto, so that aspect isn't really part of the equation. The only reference to Kyoto is the 1990 baseline, which is relevant to get a relative picture of who is doing what, how fast.

knb said...

The man is delusional! Did you see him on Politics? (I didn't watch the Duffy interview because he challenges nothing and gives Baird free ad time).

As I've said on a couple of your threads now, if he honestly thinks he can stand up in front of that group and spew this garbage, well I think they should install a Laugh Metre in the room.

Well, at least the truth is coming out and not only on the environment. Senlis released a pretty damning report re Afghanistan, the PM has managed to tick off all the Premiers, their obstruction manual is haunting them, etc., etc.

knb said...

Here's an example of media not employing any critical thinking.

One reporter says this.

Another reporter say's this.

Steve V said...

"I didn't watch the Duffy interview because he challenges nothing and gives Baird free ad time"

That was a hilarious interview. Duffy showed a clip of Dion and Harper in QP, and then gave Baird the floor to spew, with no counter. It was especially ridiculous that Duffy didn't bother to have any environmentalist on, given today's release.

I am willing to bet anything that Baird only agrees to come on if it is a solo appearance.

BTW, I'm just deleting most of these nonsense "anon" comments, that are devoid of any substance.

knb said...

Steve, I'm sure it was hilarious, but it makes me angry now. People watch this stuff and suck it in.

Duff, embrace FOX, say you want to be their spokes- person in Canada. They'll take you, I'm sure of it and Marsden could be your co-host.