In a previous post, I highlighted Canada’s poor record on climate change based on 2002 per-capita data that puts us 4th worst in the world.
In the meantime awareness on climate change has grown, so how are we doing now? Not good – based on the most recent data on total change since the 1990 benchmark year.
In 1992 most countries (including Canada and the USA) joined an international treaty — the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable.
In 1997, a number of nations (including Canada) approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful (and legally binding) measures.
Canada’s tepid response on ratifying Kyoto was no doubt based on our appalling and shameful compliance to the objectives of Kyoto. According to Canada’s 4th National Report on Climate Change:
“On September 28, 2006, the [Canadian] Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development released her 2006 Report on Climate Change. The Report described that even though the [Liberal] federal government had announced billions of dollars in funding since 1992 toward meeting commitments to address GHG emissions, as of 2004 Canada’s GHG emissions were 26.6% above 1990 levels.
The Commissioner urged Canada’s New Government to come up with a credible, realistic and clear plan that should address the long-neglected need to help Canadians cope with the consequences of climate change and to commit to specific actions with timeframes for completing them.”
In other words, the Canadian Commissioner was quite sickened over our lack of progress and kicked our government’s butt to get serious or give up.
Ok, so we changed governments, how are we doing now? According to the most recent data available from the UNFCC, Canada is now the 3rd worst nation in the world having gone from a 27% miss to a 54% miss in our Kyoto targets!
LULUCF = Land use, Land-Use Change and Forestry Total emissions and removals from activities relating to land use, land-use change and forestry (from the following categories: forest land, cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlements and other land).
In the 4th National Report on Climate Change, our new Conservative government responded with:
“The cornerstone of Canada’s new approach is legislation tabled in Parliament on October 19, 2006. Canada’s Clean Air Act takes a comprehensive approach to the problem of worsening air quality and GHG emissions. … The Act represents a significant shift from a voluntary to a regulatory approach.”
So far so good, but (here comes the water):
“Over the next three years, new regulations on all major sectors will be implemented. … Compliance options being examined include:
- an industry-led emissions trading system; [industry-led - what happened to regulation??]
- a technology investment fund that would support the development of transformative technologies for emissions reductions to which companies, and potentially governments, could contribute; [potentially contribute? so its up to industry to invest, wonder how much?]
- opt-in mechanisms that would enable entities not covered by regulation to voluntarily assume emissions targets; [opt-in?? what happened to regulation??]
- incentives that could see companies receive credit for investments in technology; [more investment, but where's the regulation??]
- mechanisms to recognize credit for early action; [pats on the back!!]
- domestic offsets in which verified emissions reductions outside the regulated system are recognized as eligible for compliance in the regulated system. [more pats on the back!!]“
Thats it. Thats all the compliance that we have in place to enforce our “regulations”. Basically our shiney new “regulatory compliance program” is entirely based on industry-led initiatives and investment fueled by “atta-boys” from our cheer-leading government.
Wow – no wonder the rest of the world thinks we’re idiots.
But it gets even more ludicrous when we look at our regulatory targets in more depth:
“Targets are an important dimension of Canada’s new approach. … Short-term intensity based GHG reduction targets will be set in consultation with provinces and territories and all affected industry sectors.”
Intensity-based targets are a made-in-USA concept (courtesty of G.W. Bush) where your GHG target is based on efficient you are at polluting. Suppose you crank out X tons of GHG to generate Y dollars of revenue. Your intensity is X/Y.
If you cap your emissions but raise your revenue, then your intensity is less. So even though you are still polluting the same amount, you get an atta-boy from the government because you are more efficient at it!
But we are ALREADY the 3rd worst country in the world relative to our 1990 baseline target. We can meet all our government’s intensity targets and still fail because we are not making absolute progress in REDUCING GHG emissions that we are already 54% behind on.
Is it time for a completely new political approach?