There’s a hole in the Conservative platform…a hole so big, you could fit Canada’s oil and gas sector or every single one of our fossil-fuel power plants into it. The hole is projected to get bigger, and will be large enough to fit every single car, truck, SUV, train, bus, and ATV in Canada into it by 2020. These are not figures from David Suzuki. They are taken from speeches by Conservative Environment Minister Peter Kent and reports provided by Environment Canada earlier this year.
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10 responses to “Tory platform’s dirty secret – my latest Economy Lab post”
17% below 2005 GHG levels is ~6% below 1990 levels (is that right?)
the Green Party calls for 30% below 1990 levels by 2020
Lester Brown calls for 80% below 2006 levels by 2020
what is that on a 1990 baseline? …
and your article is in gigatonnes (is a gigatonne the same as a gigaton?)
do you see my problem Andrew?
Sure, people use different baselines. That’s why I had a specific emissions number of 607Mt in my post compared to today’s 730Mt-ish number. Same units used in our national inventory reports. That said, whoever thought it was a good idea to have a tonne and a ton being different things should be kicked.
Andrew – do you think for one nanosecond that any government is going to be able to meet these targets without destroying the country’s standard of living? The voting majority will march off a cliff before they will support the measures we’d have to take.
We need to be pragmatic about this – we have a developed world poised on the edge of sudden increases in interest rates to battle an inflation genie that might be out of the bottle, a Greek default that will spread like contagion to the rest of the PIIGS, and a failing US economy. There’s a reason the environment is at the bottom of the priority list this election.
I actually think about that a great deal, and there is very good evidence to suggest that we could meet the targets without destroying our standard of living economy-wide. That said, I think our targets are probably too aggressive, but I think people drastically overplay the consequences of the policies it would take. I will agree with you that there are certainly ways in which a policy to meet the targets could be applied in a way that destroys the economy, but that is not necessarily true. In the grand scheme of things, we do a lot of things quite inefficiently. There are few $10 bills lying on the sidewalk, so to speak, but there are a lot of things we could do better.
Further, if we aren’t going to do anything because it would cost us too much, then there is absolutely nothing to be gained and a lot to lose from saying that we will.
It’s my opinion that every party HAS to talk about targets because the other parties do. In the case of the NDP, without a doubt any plan is 100% about funding rampant spending growth. I’m not sure about the Liberals – some of it is about raising revenues – but I think like the Tories they realize Canada cannot plow off on it’s own and burden it’s economy without knowing exactly what the US is going to do.
I think a very strong case can be made that the biggest issue in the minds of US voters right now is unemployment. With the US dollar plumbing new lows every day, the global supply chain badly damaged in Japan, and inflation forcing up Chinese wages, there’s a very good possibility that manufacturing could make some sort of a return to the US. Do you think that any president in his right mind would choke off a possible resurgence in American job growth by raising the cost of doing business through carbon taxes?
So if that scenario plays out, what would be the effect on the Canadian economy should we already be committed to non competitive cap and trade? Undoubtedly the US would love that – they could use a stooge like Jack Layton in the PM office to ensure that we’d supply them with raw materials, probably at a discount to world pricing via some bogus environmental levy, but at the same time burdening our business sector so that it didn’t present a competitive threat to US interests.
The stakes are so enormous, and the opportunity for malinvestment so high – the biggest sucker bet this country has ever seen is out there for the taking.
The big risk comes if the US were ever, as David Frum has pointed out, to make use of the NAFTA environment side agreement to impose a carbon tariff on Canadian oil. Of course, as we know, Canadian oil has nowhere else to go, in practical terms, unless that charge were very large, and the payment of these tariffs would be both royalty and corporate income tax deductible in Canada/Alberta. The wonder, of course, is that oil is a world market, so Canadian oil would not be able to pass the cost through to the US refiners in any meaningful way. Revenue goes to US, no real change in oil markets, and 60% of that revenue comes from provincial and federal coffers, not oil companies.
So yes, they care about employment, and as they sink deeper into their sinkhole, they need to find ways to close their deficit hole without imposing new costs of their firms or their constituents. David Frum, who I would not position as a lefty by any means, sees a real threat in a border carbon adjustment because it would accomplish both of these objectives, and might allow the US to place a tariff on chinese autos at the same time.
The US will likely meet 17% below 05 without many changes, since they can do it largely through a coal-to-gas switch given that 30% of their emissions are coal power and many of those plants are older anyway. By committing that that target, in an international agreement, we open the window for sanctions under a NAFTA side agreement. When the solution is an average cost of less than $0.50/bbl, the insurance value is worth it. How much extra is it going to cost to move oil through Keystone XL given all the regulatory hurdles?
a disappointing response Andrew (to me) … seems (to me) that the general ability to compare apples with apples is impaired, but you apparently don’t see it like that (?)
here we have an issue of central importance, and the pundits use different baselines & units, and I (at least) cannot find a dependable conversion … so … count me out of the discussion I guess …
Sorry if you are disappointed David. I agree that the different baselines detract for our ability to have a rational discussion, but not sure what else you were expecting back from me. My posts always use Mt and t units, although I am admittedly sloppy on tons of carbon vs. tons of CO2, and perhaps on tonnes vs. tons. I hope that’s not enough to push you out of the discussion.
not what I meant at all Andrew – I am asking how an intelligent discussion can be undertaken when basic comparisons are problematic?
how do you deal with it? how do you compare, say, the Green Party pitch of 30% below 1990 by 2020 with Lester Brown’s 80% below 2006 by 2020?
is it not important to be able to make such comparisons?
the only site I have found is this one http://www.sandbagclimategame.org/tc but I am not sure how fair it is to compare one country with another which is all that it really permits
do you have some personal spreadsheet or something which allows you to to compare?
or do you just wing it?
Sorry, misunderstood your question. I don’t really have a personal spreadsheet, but I have the data from the National Inventory reports (see EC Summary of Trends) on my machine so I can grab data if I need them for Canada. Country-to-country, I tend to look at prices as my definition for sandbagging, not any particular reduction measurement. If you are meeting a target with a price of 0, you are sandbagging your target.
Happy election night!