Conservative Party “plan” for Greenhouse Gases in Canada

A major policy speech introducing the new “plan” by the Conservative Party of Canada to reduce Canadian GhG emissions has been leaked to the Opposition Liberals tonight… and in an attempt to avoid influencing the markets before they open tomorrow (Wednesday), the crux of the plan has been released.

The CBC reports:

The speech says that by 2020, the government hopes it will have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 150 million tonnes.

It also says the government will explore emission credit trading with the U.S. and Mexico, something they have been reluctant to embrace in the past.

“The Tory government intends to stop the rise of greenhouse gases in three to five years”.

So… this begs numbers.

OK. Here’s the Quick Facts thanks to Environment Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory and some quick math:

The Kyoto Target: ie. 1990 CO2 levels for Canada: 599 Megatonnes (MT)
2004 CO2 emissions: 754MT
Estimated 2007 emissions given 2% growth rate: 790MTB
Estimated 2012 emission given 1% average growth (the slowdown period): 820MT
Emissions with Conservatives reduction plan by 2020: 670MT (equal to 1998 levels)

See the bottom for the explanation of the numbers if you’d like…. I know it’s not most peoples thing. 🙂

So, eight years after other countries have met their Kyoto commitment, Canada would be bringing up the rear… still 12% off. I’m inclined to be very unimpressed by this goal. Especially since if it’s so “tough” to even do this, we gotta start soon, and yet, we still haven’t heard how the Conservatives propose to do it. If they can actually do this… I think I could live with it. Given what is happening in the Oil Sands, it is going to be very difficult to cool off the incredible growth in that region. So if we can get down to 670 by 2020, I’d say that’s OK. Nothing to be proud of, but OK.

The GHG Inventory above gives a great pie chart of CO2 emissions by industry.

Oil & Gas, Transportation, and Electricity Generation (Coal/Gas) are the major emitters at about 20% each. With domestic Natural Gas supplies likely in major decline by 2012 (coincidence? I think not)… I see Nuclear power in Alberta, and Canadas, future to replace all the Gas fired plants.

They say the Conservatives will use Carbon Trading to meet their goals as well. This makes me very very sceptical. I see this as the gift to the Oil and Gas industry… which means we could see no reduction at all in the worst emitters, and general polluters, in the country.

What’s missing in this? Transportation… I’m hoping the Conservatives will surprise me and introduce major incentives for consumers and industry to reduce transportation emisssions. That could only take the form of high-mileage cars, more rail, and more mass transit. These would be the only changes that would create the real societal changes that would actually reduce our *perceived need* to endlessly emit CO2.

If… instead, the Conservatives (like their Liberal predecessors) focus solely on “conservation”, it will simply not be enough… Canadians, I think, have already gotten that message. We need more concrete, widespread action. Enough beating around the bush. Lets get to it as a nation.

Here is the Math….

EnvCan sets the baseline at 599 Megatonnes (MT) of CO2 (ie. the 1990 “Kyoto” target). EnvCan says as of 2004 we gained 27%… to 754MT, about 2% growth a year for the past 14 years.

If we grew 2% a year since 2004 and over the next 5 years we grow by an average of 1% a year… (assuming we “slow” our growth gradually) that’s about 12% more on the 1990 level or 820MT by 2012. So the Tories want to reduce our emissions by 150MT by 2020 (8 years further on). 150MT will bring us to around 670MT, which is about where we were at in 1998.