Sunday, May 27, 2007

Specific Numbers - Canada's Kyoto Targets

According to Environment Canada, on the 25th, Canada submitted its annual national greenhouse gas inventory for 2005. Why there's a year and a half lag before we submit numbers, I'm not sure, but at least it gives us something to go on. So here's how we're doing.

As of 2005, we were 1/3 above our Kyoto targets. In total, we emitted 747 million tons. Kind of makes the 1 ton challenge seem less significantl (this was the ad campaign with Rick Mercer in it about a year ago, where we were encouraged to reduce emissions by 1 ton per person.) If everyone did reduce their emissions by 1 ton we'd make a cut of about 30-35 megatonnes.

By contrast, in 1990, we had emitted 596 megatonnes. Our Kyoto targets are 563 megatonnesby 2012.

So, why have greenhouse gases gone up by 25% since 1990? THe standard answer is "economic growth", as we've grown at around 3% per year most years (total increase of 50%). But it's becoming widely acknowledged that this economic growth is mainly benefitting those who are already well off. Wages aren't rising, and in fact I saw a statistic recently that said that wages have fallen by 12.5% for males in the workforce over the past 30 years (not sure whether this is in dollar terms or inflation adjusted, but even if it's inflation adjusted it's a bad figure). So how are we better off, with this 25% increase in energy use? Would it be so bad to go back to how things were in 1990, for most people? I don't remember mass anarchy and economic collapse (although to be fair the early 90's was a significant recession). And yet the government says that the Kyoto targets are unattainable because they would lead to negative economic consequences that are too severe to bear.

One interesting thing in these statistics: the greenhouse gas emissions have been basically stable since 2004 (total increase of 0.3%), while the economy grew. Reasons: Katrina hurt the oil and gas sector, and we've had warmer than average winters. So it's not sustainable and it will be interesting to see what the 2006 and 2007 figures come out as, since of the 150 megatonnes increase ince 1990 137 came from the oil and gas sector and the transportation sector.

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