Some good points in this piece. I just love Baird’s argument that “275,000 Canadians would lose their jobs, gasoline prices would jump 60 per cent and natural gas prices would double.” Sounds like just what has happened over the past couple of years as the result of the oil boom. Did 250,000 manufacturing workers lose their jobs because of Kyoto -or because of a surge in the dollar caused by an environmentally unsustainable resource boom? (No prizes for the correct answer.)
For me the key Conservative deception here is that there is only one way to meet our Kyoto obligations. In fact, we have the Clean Development Mechanism, and the option to take on greater carbon reduction obligations in the next phase. If we get started, and get serious, – which is absolutely the key reason to keep our feet to the fire -there’s no reason to believe that other countries won’t cut us a bit of slack, especially if we are prepared to finance cheap, legitimate carbon reduction efforts in developing countries.
Critics mock Ottawa’s apocalyptic scenario of Kyoto compliance
Environment Minister John Baird presented an apocalyptic scenario of what it would take to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. (CP PHOTO/Fred Chartrand)
Dennis Bueckert, Canadian Press
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2007
OTTAWA (CP) – Environment Minister John Baird has gone on the offensive against advocates of the Kyoto Protocol, presenting a federal study which suggests the treaty’s emissions-cutting targets could be met only at a massive economic cost.
But opposition critics and environmentalists say the study is flawed because it excludes the benefits of cutting emissions, such as avoiding dangerous climate change and creating new jobs in green technology.
The confrontation comes as a Senate committee ponders a Liberal bill which would require the government to meet its commitment under the Kyoto treaty – a six per cent emissions cut from 1990 levels by 2012. All three opposition parties united to pass the bill in the Commons and it if passes the Senate, the government will have a law on the books that contradicts its policy.
“There is only one way to make it happen, to manufacture a recession,” Baird told the Senate environment committee Thursday.
He said 275,000 Canadians would lose their jobs, gasoline prices would jump 60 per cent and natural gas prices would double. The study says meeting the Kyoto targets would require a carbon tax of $195 per tonne.
Baird said the study has been reviewed and approved by a number of leading economists including Don Drummond, chief economist of Toronto Dominion Bank Financial Group and Carl Sonnen, president of Informetrica.
“The cost to maintain a home or business would skyrocket,” Baird told the committee.
Liberal environment critic David McGuinty said the study is skewed because it artificially restricts the use of international emissions trading and ignores the job creation that would come with a new focus on green technologies.
“Of course it’s hard to get the job done without tools. That’s like saying it would take years to build a subway line with teaspoons.”
New Democrat Paul Dewar said the study amounts to “deception” intended to back the government’s inaction. “Putting scare and fear into the hearts of Canadians doesn’t work. People know there will be costs but what the hell is the government doing now?”
Dewar quoted Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, whose study in October estimated it would take two per cent of gross domestic product in advanced countries to reduce emissions to an acceptable level. Dewar said he believes Canadians would accept such a cost.
The government analysis itself admits that the costs would be much lower with different assumptions. A section titled “alternate scenarios” says unrestricted access to international emissions credits would cut the cost to about $25 a tonne, rather than $195 a tonne.
The study assumes that Canada can get only 25 per cent of its reductions through international credits, even though the Kyoto treaty imposes no such restriction.
Stewart Elgie, a professor at the University of Ottawa who focuses on carbon markets, says that single assumption inflates the cost of compliance by 700 per cent. He also criticized the study for ignoring the benefits of curbing emissions.
“It only looks at the cost of meeting Kyoto and ignores the benefits of avoiding dangerous climate change, and it will have huge benefits in Canada.”
Baird denied that the government is scare-mongering: “I’m just giving the information.” He said the benefits of cutting emissions were not included because they would develop only in the longer term.
Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez says the study is intended to scare Canadians and called its conclusions ridiculous. Similar scare campaigns crop up whenever environmental reforms are proposed, he said, citing past efforts to curb acid rain or phase out chemicals that attack the ozone layer.
© The Canadian Press 2007
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