Canada and creative climate accounting
- September 14, 2012 3:43 PM |
- By Quirks
By Bob McDonald, Quirks & Quarks
According to a recent report from the independent science-based group Climate Action Tracker, Canada's claim to being halfway to reaching our 2020 greenhouse gas emissions targets is actually playing with numbers to make it look like we're accomplishing more than we are.
The group, which monitors emission reductions around the world, says that while Canada has achieved reductions in carbon emissions, they are only one-third of our targets for 2020, not half. Climate Action Tracker says the apparent extra reductions are actually due to credit for our large forests, which the UN is adding to all forested countries; lower emissions during the economic collapse of 2009; and other accounting tricks to make it look like we have cut back significantly, while ignoring the fact that emissions from the oil sands operations have increased by 50 per cent since 2005.
In fact, the report goes on to say that the oil sands now represent more than half of this country's total emissions, and, "measures to prevent the emissions from tar sands could in fact lead to Canada almost achieving its pledge."
Instead, development in the oil sands area continues to expand.
This is not to say that Canada hasn't made some progress in reducing emissions. The switch from coal-fired generating stations to natural gas in Ontario and emission caps on new generating stations has been a factor, as well as tougher standards for vehicle emissions. Those efforts have had a positive effect, but not the amount that's being claimed.
For a reality check, all of this is happening during a year when ice covering the Arctic Ocean reached an all-time record low and average temperatures at both poles continue to rise. It seems that the planet is telling a different story than the politicians.
The bottom line is that Canada still has a long way to go to reduce our carbon emissions and if current trends continue, we will fall short of our 2020 targets. But achieving that goal is not out of the question. The technology to do it is there, as well as the expertise to diversify our energy production into wind, solar, geothermal and even new nuclear. As you will hear on this week's program, a new nuclear technology based on thorium may be a green "superfuel" of the future.
But developments in those areas, while growing, are still overshadowed by the easy profits from digging fossil fuels out of the ground and selling them raw to overseas markets. The carbon-based economy still dominates and creative accounting is not the way to really clean up our act.
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