What, Me Worry?

“You can be on the right track and still get hit by a train!” Alfred E, Newman

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a huge wake-up call to the world last October.  Current human activity has caused an increase of 1 deg C (over pre-industrial levels). They raised the alarm of genuinely catastrophic change to the environment and humankind if the world temperature rises 2 deg C. They urged that the target be reduced to 1.5 deg C, so, we don’t have much wiggle room. 

The next bit of science to understand is carbon dioxide concentration levels.  Today CO2 levels are at 410 parts per million (PPM).  The scientists say that the 1.5 deg C target is linked to a concentration level of 430 PPM.  Annual increases are about 2 ppm per year.  It is an equation that sets the environmentalists’ hair on fire; with predictions of global catastrophe by 2030.

The IPCC report and a more recent Natural Resources Canada report say that the Arctic is warming faster – at roughly twice the rate of the globe.  For Canada, this will mean more extreme heat waves, more intense rainfall events and earlier snow melts. 

As a commitment to the Paris Accord, Canada agreed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030, compared to a 2005 benchmark . That translates into reducing 220 megatonnes of CO2 between 2016 and 2030. Canada will clearly miss any 2020 milestone and isn’t on track to get to the target by 2030. 

So, we must look to political leadership get us back on course.  The Liberal government’s recipe is carbon taxes, coal phaseout, public transit, carbon sinks and technology. AND the unstated plan to limit or kill oilsands expansion by limiting access to export markets. But the federal government is facing fierce resistance to the attack on pipelines. 

And speaking of resistance, five provincial premiers are leading the charge against carbon taxes. It is good retail politics to dispute any connection between the price of fuel and reduced consumption. But it is passing strange that these conservative governments disavow the idea that market forces will work.  While championing taxes on industry and more regulations! 

In Alberta, the UCP government’s first order of business was to kill the Alberta carbon tax, recognising that a federal backstop tax would replace it.  Alberta must now rely more heavily upon reductions from large emitters and technology to ‘do its share’ to meet Canada’s goal. 

If we are reluctant to ask the guy with the Dodge 350 dually to pay an extra 7 cents a litre, we need to understand what the climate plan is:

Are we committed to meeting the Paris Accord reduction targets?

Are we ready to bear down on methane; the ‘bad boy’ greenhouse gas in the energy and agriculture sectors?

Are we ready to create carbon sinks by planting more trees?

How do we propose to incentivize technology solutions?

Or is the plan to wait to see if it is really just the sun spots that are warming the earth?