Posted by: Tony Carson | 29 October, 2009

How can Canada meets its environmental commitments?

As it’s commitment going forward, Canada has targeted a 20% reduction in greenhouse-gases from 2006 levels by 2020 and, just like when Canada signed onto Kyoto, Canada knows it hasn’t a chance in hell of reaching its target.

Why? Because as the landmark report by The Pembina Institute and and Suzuki Foundation climate leadership, economic prosperity (Final Report on an Economic Study of Greenhouse Gas Targets and Policies for Canada) points out it will require an entire restructuring of the Canadian economy with wealth flowing from the West to the rest of the country.

As a Globe and Mail article entitled Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques explains government climate change goals can only be achieved by limiting growth in the oil and coal producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

What would it take for Canada to meet its 20% target? Columnist Jeffrey Simpson explains.

“A whole lot more than the government is suggesting. What would be the cost to the economy of doing more? It depends how aggressive Canada wants to be. But if 20% remains the target, then necessary measures would take a mere 0.16% off economic growth yearly from 2010 to 2020.

Put another way, there would be a small overall national economic cost, and significant interregional economic flows from fossil-fuel-producing Alberta and Saskatchewan to other parts of Canada. But, even after those interregional flows, Alberta would still experience the country’s strongest economic growth, and Canada’s overall economic growth would remain strong. (The cost of doing nothing is considerable, of course, in the long term for Alberta, Canada and the world.)

How to hit the target? Find a price for carbon of $40 a tonne by 2011, rising to $100 a tonne by 2020, above what the government contemplates. Back that price with a series of regulations on vehicles, home efficiency, switching to lower-carbon fuels, and carbon from flaring and venting in upstream oil and gas production. Even with these and other measures, Canada will meet the 2020 target only by buying emissions credits offshore – something the government has steadfastly insisted it will not do.”

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