Thursday, December 03, 2009

Earth To Canada: You Don't Matter

There's a lot of hullabaloo about Canada's climate record. Heather Mallick has decided to apologize to former imperial masters on our behalf. Apparently, Canadians have lost their way on climate change... oh and also the media sucks and we stupidly keep voting for people we really don't want or something like that. I really could care less about Ms. Mallick. I do care about facts. The fact is that Canada's environmental record is terrible but it's inconsequentially small. Do the math. Canada's total CO2 emissions in 2004 according to the World Bank was 639 MT. The INCREASE in China's CO2 emissions between 1990 and 2004 was 2617 MT. That's more than four times greater than our total output. The US saw its emissions go up by almost twice Canada's 2004 levels in the same time period. If Canada had met its Kyoto obligations it would reduce the 2004 number by about 250 MT which is a lot in Canadian terms but almost nothing on the world stage.

The reality is that the future of our planet doesn't lie in Canadian or even Western hands. In 1990, the countries actually bound by Kyoto made up 58.6% of world emisssions. By 2004, that number had dropped 49.1% in spite of the fact that those countries on the whole were 1600 MT over their Kyoto targets. If the world is going to become insufferably hot it will be because China, India and a few other major players failed to achieve what on the surface seem to me to be unreasonably optimistic targets. In 1990 the world's two most populous countries accounted for just 13.5% of the world's total. In 2004, that number had jumped to 21.9%. The world can no longer be entirely shaped by the decisions taken in European capitals by old white men. Asia is where the climate battle will be lost or won.

We can get warm and fuzzy talking about per capita emissions. The earth doesn't care. The earth cares about the total. A 0.1 T increase in China's CO2 emissions per capita represents a 139 MT in the world's CO2 levels. In other words, the disastrous record of Canada between 1990 and 2004 represents less than 0.2 T increase in China's CO2 emissions per capita. If heaven forbid China were to have the CO2 per capita of EU star Denmark (2004) it would add 8328 MT of CO2 each year. India would add about 9328 MT at a 2004 Danish level. That is a non-starter. All of this doesn't mean we in Canada shouldn't try to reduce our emissions. It just means that if there is drought and floods destroying the world in the coming years, it really won't be our fault.


Anonymous said...

Do you really think the Liberals will be successful by being Conservative-lite?

I understand the need to craft a political feasible solution to global warming. The problem is reaching a solution that actually has a chance of stopping the earth from overheating – as opposed to developing a solution designed to appease powerful interests. Focusing on the problems with Kyoto and how terrible it is Soviet-era statistics influenced Russia’s reduction targets (which doesn’t really matter because – besides the recent short-term blip – the Russian economy has been contracting for years) does not lead us to an honest solution. That is a way to avoid coming to an honest solution.

Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada are firmly on the side of the interests opposed to doing anything about global warming. Despite speeches Jim Prentice might make or Pentagon Reviews – which are much less important then they seem.

Any meaningful attempt to reduce carbon emissions will adversely affect the tar sands. That is the circle which has to be squared. Again, there has to be an opening there for the Liberal Party. Once you break through the spin, the Conservative Party has adopted a maximalist, do-nothing unless forced, direction. Liberals internalizing those same Conservative arguments will only lead to electoral defeat.

Canada exports asbestos. Yet: we know it causes cancer. The science is proven and well understood. The only reason we keep digging it out of the ground (and selling it to Africans) is to appease a specific set of Quebec political interests.

The difference is that the people affected by global warming aren’t miners living in rural Quebec or Newfoundland, or children in far away Africa, it’s all of us. Including Western Canadians.


Anonymous said...

Wsam says
"Any meaningful attempt to reduce carbon emissions will adversely affect the tar sands. That is the circle which has to be squared."

That is only part of the circle.In order for Canada to have any chance of meeting targets we have to stop or at least drastically reduce immigration.The way politics is done in this country it won't happen.It can't happen.

I do not suggest we should halt immigration but that is because I do not believe that GHG reduction scheme is going to work.

Even if Canada reduced its emissions (as calculated by Kyoto) to 0 the net difference globally would be irrelevant.

We cannot allow political parties to parrot these changes just to try and muster a few lousy votes. The leaders know damn well that Canada cannot sign this deal.

wilson said...

Canada's oilsands are singled out because of the fantastic visuals to advance their agenda.
The ugliness of the projects make good photo ops.
(But then a pic of a lung filled with cancer from asbestos isn't as easy to sell)

And they distort the facts, with no shame, saying the oilsands produce 3 to 4 X the ghg of conventional drilling,
instead of 30 - 40% more ghg they originally spewed off about.

And ignore the recent studies that show the oilsands produce only 10% more ghg than conventional oil extraction.

How is killing our economy, thusly creating an increase in poverty in Canada,
so as to slow global warming by 6 hours,
a good thing?

CanadianSense said...

Good Post for pointing out Heather Mallick. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Brave stance against Heather Mallick. I applaud you sir!!

I think there are some orphans nearby who need there lunch money stolen or some such thing. Go at 'em!!

How are we to pressure any other country to do anything when we refuse to take meaningful steps ourselves.

All this whining about India, the United States and China is just a means to deflect attention off us.

Totally dishonest.


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