Saturday, July 22, 2006

We are the champions!

Er, 'champion energy consumers.' The most recent issue of The Economist has an excellent overview (subscription required) of Canada's ugly affair with emissions. My favourite line:

It doesn't help that global warming sounds like good news in a country of interminable winters.

Right. Moving on....

The political task is almost as daunting. Several provinces have plans to reduce
emissions, but all have different priorities. Alberta, the prime minister's adopted home province, is a big emitter because of its coal-fired power stations and energy-guzzling production of oil from tar sands. In contrast, Quebec relies on hydro power and encourages public transport. Mr Harper needs to do well there if he is to turn his government's current minority status into a majority at the next election.

As for business, the degree of resistance to emissions curbs varies. Abitibi-Consolidated, a big paper producer, has already cut emissions from its Canadian mills to 42% below 1990 levels. But energy efficiency in the oil and gas industry has plummeted because companies in Alberta's oil sands use large amounts of natural gas to extract oil.

There is no shortage of suggestions for a new set of policies. Most borrow from international experience of pricing air pollution. The C.D. Howe Institute favours a carbon tax, compensated by cuts in other taxes. Another possibility is to use provincial schemes as building blocks for a national effort. Alberta and Quebec have already set up company registries for emissions, says Daniel Schwanen, an environmental analyst. It would cost Ottawa little to make them compatible.

Mr Harper could also look to the government's own advisory body, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which reported last month that emissions could be reduced by 60% by 2050. Technology is not the problem, said the report. What is needed is a clear signal from the government that it is serious about climate change.

The article also gave a brief mention of The Montreal Exchange's newly-announced credit-trading scheme for carbon-dioxide emissions. Details are still pretty unclear, but I look forward to learning more about it.

1 comment:

best4chance said...

I say briefly: Best! Useful information. Good job guys.