Emissions drop from Canada’s biggest GHG polluters

2010-01-19

in Canada, Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

One curious thing about those who are determined to avoid the emergence of effective climate change policies is how they argue that climate science is far too uncertain to serve as the basis for decision-making, while simultaneously claiming that their economic models prove that going low-carbon will produce certain economic ruin. That claim is especially poorly defended over the long-term, given that economic models cannot effectively incorporate the consequences of technology and capital changes across a span of decades. Also, the idea that fossil fuel based prosperity will be everlasting faces a fundamental challenge from the scarcity of those fuels, and the political volatility of many of the regions in which they are found.

Near-term data also suggests that Canadian companies can cut emissions without suffering economic ruin. According to Tyler Hamilton’s blog:

[Canada’s] Top 10 industrial CO2 emitters reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 9 per cent in 2008 compared to 2007. At the same time, the Canadian economy grew by 0.5 per cent. Given that the impacts of the economic downturn were felt mostly in 2009, an even greater drop is expected this year. Canada’s Top 350 emitters reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6 per cent during the same period.

Of course, that does not prove, in and of itself, that effective climate change policies would be painless in terms of costs or jobs. Still, just as the onus must be on climate scientists to both refine their models and acknowledge their limitations, those who assert that good climate policies will be economically ruinous must address both evidence and arguments that suggest that this may not be so.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mica January 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Hi Milan.

I know this is entirely unrelated to this post, but I have a question for you.

In Vancouver, with the Olympics weeks away, there are a varying degree of emotions dividing our city. There is a growing sense of pride, a sense of nervous excitement, higher expectations, and both justified and unjustified vocal protest.

To my knowledge, which is limited at best, I see the Olympics in a positive light. I tend to think that spending money on sport to be justifiable venture (most importantly on an amateur level). I don’t like the way the Olympics have evolved from a true celebration of sport, to a made-for-TV event.

However, that being said I’m not naive either. It has become this way, in order to be viewable for a global audience, just like the World Cup, and Superbowl.

And what all these events have in common, are a high price tag. One would hope, the money spent would have a lasting effect, a legacy to promote sport and success for younger Canadians.

Back in 2003, when we won the games, nobody complained. People celebrated in the streets, GM Place erupted, and Vancouver seemed proud and ready to showcase ourselves to the world. I still believe we are for certain reasons:

1) By and large, most of the venues needed were already built, compared to previous Olympic Games.

2) Whistler has already proven capable of being an international host, and sporting centre.

3) Unlike other sprawling olympic games, this games is purposely centred in two core areas: Whistler, and Vancouver. Each will act independently and effectively.

So my question is this: for every person I see celebrating the games, I see another complaining. By and large, the largest reasons not being, the money NOT spent on social programs, housing, etc, but rather on the “in-conveniences” it would cause. Traffic. Closed off areas….

For both answers I have 2 responses:

a) We won the games 7 years ago, and have a responsibility to be a host. It is also an international priviledge to hold the games, and will put Vancouver on an even more global scale. The homeless population in Vancouver is another issue altogether, and for another discussion.

b) Suck it up. Walk to work. Ride a bike. Gregor Robertson wants this to be the greenest city by 2020. Perhaps an obscene amount of traffic, will get people on bikes, and public transit. (Much like they did when gas was nearly $1.60 a litre. But sadly, when the price of gas dropped, so did the amount the amount of users of transit)

So there you have it. A divided city. I’m very proud to have the Olympics, I believe Vancouver will run them very well, and I think the long term benefits will be positive.

What is the viewpoint in Eastern Canada? Because I’ve read in the Globe and Mail and MacLeans, that the east is praising Vancouver on their preparations. Somewhere along the line of “Canada Line. Ahead of Schedule. Venues. Ahead of Schedule. Volunteer numbers. More than expect. Congrats to VANOC.”

Does a lack of immediate proximitiy alter the national viewpoint regarding the 2010 games? Do the 2010 games seem, from a national, or perhaps an international level, as a well-executed event thus far.

I’m curious to know.

Milan January 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm

What is the viewpoint in Eastern Canada?

The only context in which I have personally discussed the games here is with a certain friend who works for Canadian Heritage, and is a bit annoyed with all the extra work. All told, I don’t think the Olympics are a major concern for most of the people I know here.

Generally, my friends in Vancouver seem more opposed to the Olympics than supportive, partly because they see them as a waste of money, partly because they object to the security arrangements or the forcible relocation law, and in a few cases for environmental reasons (widening the road to Whistler, etc).

R.K. January 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I doubt many of those top CEOs were happy with 0.5 per cent growth, and their emissions would probably have increased with the 7-8% growth people expect from equities.

. January 20, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Welcome to the Bailout Games.

Even with the intense participation of some of the world’s biggest corporations, the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held together by government spending — much of it never contemplated before the economic bubble burst weeks after the 2008 Beijing Games.

A year ago, amid the doldrums of the Great Recession, VANOC’s message was all about being the shining light that would guide British Columbia safely through the turmoil of the times because it had a billion dollars to spend. Then came the spring, and chief executive John Furlong’s admission that making a profit was unlikely. Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Rudge said in May there would be no financial legacy of Vancouver 2010. Just venues.

VANOC’s chief financial officer, John McLaughlin, said it best on June 16th in a teleconference discussing quarterly financial results.

“While some experts are suggesting the worst is behind us, we don’t believe we’ll see a marked improvement,” McLaughlin said.

. January 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm

“Vancouver is proof that cities can be vibrant, growing and prosperous while also taking meaningful action on climate change. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have already been reduced to 1990 levels and Vancouver is on track to meeting the Kyoto target (6% below 1990 levels by 2012). At the same time population has grown by 27% and jobs by 18%.”

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