Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 6:06 pm Post subject: Burning Our Money to Warm the Planet
Here's a good study on the Canadian politics of environmentalism, what hasn't been done over the last 16 years (and 5 "green" plans)... where GHG levels are predicted to be by 2050, and why sending Kyoto dollars to Russia doesn't help anybody (except Russia).
I posted the executive summary on my blog earlier but here it is again:
For 15 years Canadian governments have layered one greenhouse gas (GHG) policy over another -- the 1990 Green Plan, the 1995 National Action Program on Climate Change, Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change, the 2002 Climate Change Plan for Canada and Project Green in 2005. The names changed, but the policy approach did not: it consisted primarily of offering information and subsidies to encourage voluntary reductions in emissions. Without substantial restrictions or charges for emitting GHGs, Canadian emissions have grown by 25 percent since 1990, outstripping the emission targets and commitments set by the government.
As a result of investments in energy supply, infrastructure, buildings and energy-using devices, we continue on the GHG-intensive path, and the cost of diverting from it in future keeps rising. This is to be expected in a market economy where there are many benefits to businesses and individuals from burning fossil fuels, and these actions overwhelm the effect of voluntary efforts to reduce GHGs. This explains why the evidence from international experience with energy efficiency and climate policy suggests that emission charges or regulations are necessary if the GHG intensity of the economy is to be reduced over the next several decades.
In spite of the mounting evidence that Canada's policies were not working, the government's last major policy initiative, Project Green, represented an intensification of the information and subsidy approach.
A forecast based on a continuation of this approach suggests that Canadian emissions would increase by 50 percent within 35 years. Even the anticipated regulation of industrial emissions in its present form would be swamped by growth in key sectors, such as oil sands production and fossil-fuel-based electricity generation. If this policy approach continues, we will spend at least $80 billion over the next 35 years -- but without reducing GHG emissions.
Many Canadians believe we have been taking action on climate change when we have actually been doing little. In fact, it could be argued that without a substantial shift in policy, we will be burning our money to warm the planet.
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