Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why We Need the Kyoto Protocol

Because we aren't going to make significant environmental improvement unless we're forced to.

There's a reason why Jean Chretien didn't make significant movement on the environment, even though his desire to was clearly proven by his signing of the Kyoto Protocol. We didn't let him. We didn't want to change our own lives. We didn't want the government to spend money on it.

Friday's Globe & Mail editorial, Behind the Gloss of Liberal Kyoto Virtue, paints a terrifying picture of what our renewed commitment to Kyoto will do to us. The Globe argues that there's no way we can meet our commitment and we can't afford to pay the penalty. They lay the blame on Liberal inaction.

That's crap. It was Canadian inaction. We're all to blame: the Alberta oil industry and Ontario consumers first and foremost, but nobody has been environmentally responsible. Even the Green Party, by wasting time on a new tax system that ain't gonna happen, is part of the problem.

We can't rely on the will of the electorate, so we can't rely on the leadership of our politicians, so the only way we can make any progress is to be forced to. Now we're forced. Do we want to pay $10 billion in penalties in five years, or do we want to get serious?



Drew Adamick said...

So, Canada is now catching itself it a bit of a Kyoto Catch-22, eh? Damned it we do (potential costs to the economy) and damned if we don't (loss of international reputation- not to mention our polar ice caps!)

I'll admit the Liberals should have done more, but even then- the government can't do everything. Canadians themselves must take the plunge and make some sacrifices if we truly want to live up to Kyoto.

SDC said...

Even if we COULD meet those Kyoto goals (which we can't), even if we COULD afford to buy billions of dollars of "carbon credits" from China and India (which we can't), and even if Canadians were to cut jobs by 20% and spend the next 15 years huddled in caves trying to stay warm, any possible benefit of us actually MEETING those goals is more than offset by what CHINA ALONE is doing, in building more than 500 coal-powered plants. By all means, if it makes you feel good to shiver in the dark, be my guest, just don't expect a whole lot of people to join you.

Anonymous said...

SO you are proposing that we throw democracy out the window and have the government force people to live their lives a certain way? Apparently democracy is not that important to you! You ungrateful little shit.

Yappa said...

We can agree to disagree on parts of this issue, but your reference to China is incorrect. China is behind us in terms of technology, but it is rapidly catching up and showing a commitment to the environment. Chinese car emission standards are far, far stricter than Canada's. China is roughly the same size as Canada and has more than 40 times more people, so it will always face bigger challenges than us. That is no argument for us to give up.

Yappa said...

To anonymous -

There is a boatload of precedent for the government forcing us to do stuff. That's what laws, regulations, taxation and public education are all about, as well as conscription. It's how democracy works.

The majority of Canadians want us to clean up our environmental act, and this seems to be the only way to get going on it.

The ungrateful little shit ;-)

Lolly said...

Lately, I keep comparing the infamous 6 & 5 that Trudeau enacted in the early 80's as an excellent example of Why government can not enforce regulations on society to "clean up our act" or else.

Another analogy that comes to mind is the 3 year old when told to sit in the car seat to ge buckled up, yells in defiance "you're not the boss of me"............. the mind wanders alot when I think of how we can be active participants in assisting Canada to meet the targets set by Kyoto but it is always the human factor that is inconsistant.

I worked as a SA to a Cabinet Minister in the Trudeau Government when 6&5 was implemented, and our phones rang off the hook from irrate Canadians who let us know in no uncertain terms that they were not going to switch off their lights when they left the room to save energy just because Trudeau suggested it as a good measure to practise.

My own Mother was hysterical about having Government tell her what to do ...wasn't it the people telling government not the other way around.

Yappa said...

To Lolly -

Wage and price controls (or in this case I guess they were guidelines), such as Trudeau tried to implement in 1982-4 with the 6&5 program, are problematic for reasons other than personal freedom. They have consequences such as breaking the power of unions, reducing competitiveness in the economy, and hurting producers such as farmers who can't get more for their product but have to pay more for their inputs.

A government effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would probably not include measures like 6&5. It could include higher taxes on gasoline and natural gas, taxes on fuel-guzzling vehicles, public education, subsidies for furnace upgrades, stricter regulations on vehicle emissions, better enforcement of pollution by industry, government adoption of environmental products and policies, promotion of railways and public transit, new density goals for cities, etc etc etc. In other words, the sort of thing we already have but better and stronger. Take a look at what they've been doing in Germany.


Jacques Beau Vert said...

There is a reason Chretien did not make any progress at all on the environment, but it is most assuredly not because we didn't let him. The greatest power a Prime Minister or President holds is the power to persuade. It simply wasn't a priority for him.

Which is fine, I guess - it wasn't for others in that era.

I bike year round and keep the lowest hydro bills in my building. I've cut dramatically back on meat and dairy in order to reduce GHG emissions. When Mercer called the One Tonne Challenge, I was waaay ahead of him.

We must all take anthropogenic global warming seriously.

However, the Kyoto Protocol is no answer to the problems we face. It isn't going to reduce emissions and is only going to cost us money - money that should be invested into reducing emissions here. Paying a penalty to keep up or even raise emissions is not the solution that we need.

(Besides, Canada is not contributing to global warming - our forests eat up more CO2 than we create. A proper Kyoto Protocol should see several nations paying nations like us)

As a strong environmentalist, I have to say that Harper did the right thing taking us out of Kyoto.

However, a pretty bright conservative blogger has come up with a good fix on Kyoto that would make me persuaded on its usefulness - I think it's worth a look.

It seems you've already made up your mind, however. The truth, though, is that we can't meet the targets five years from now.

$10 billion in penalties in five years, or do we want to get serious?

I would definitely like to hear any workable proposals that Canada could take to cut down emissions to meet those targets. I'm open-minded, and if there's a solution we can use to actually get serious enough in five years, I'm absolutely all ears.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Chretian personally wanted to do anything about the environment. He signed it because, according to what I read, he talked a good game about doing something about environmental issues several years before at a world summit, but when international leaders met again, it turned out his government had done a whole lot of nothing. He was essentially shamed into signing it. That's what I've read.

There is no question in my mind that the Liberals should have done more, but that's no excuse for the current government to whine and keep saying that it's "impossible" to meet the targets. There's plenty of blame to go around, but it obviously doesn't solve the problems. Sometimes it seems as if politics is the epitome of humanity acting badly, competing rather than cooperating, and when it comes to big issues like this, it's incredibly frustrating to watch.

Our lives could be greatly improved by being more environmentally conscious and restructuring our societies and economies. Unfortunately, the people who are invested in the status quo already have a lot of money and stand to lose a bunch if things changed. Then there's the fact that humanity seems prone to inertia in the first place. Change requires so much bloody work, so it's easier to just keep bumping along until we smack into a mountain.

Jacques Beau Vert said...

the Liberals should have done more, but that's no excuse for the current government to whine and keep saying that it's "impossible" to meet the targets

It's no excuse to whine, I agree - but if it's possible to meet the next targets, I'm all ears as to how it can be done. I really don't believe it's possible.

The government should not whine, you are right. But after Chretien and Martin, it IS impossible to meet our targets.

No justification for whining, but it IS justification to say, "These can't be met, so let's figure out how we will ever possibly meet the next set, that needs to be our achievable goal.

But again, I stress that I'd very much like to hear thoughts on how we might reach these targets - if it is possible, please share. I can jump on a bandwagon, believe me.

SDC said...

Take a read of Don Martin: . Even if we WANTED to turn off all power production in Canada, or permanently park all business and private vehicles, or send billions of dollars to China and India, it still wouldn't do a damn thing. China is currently the 2nd largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, and constantly growing, so even if Canada was to pull out all the stops to meet those Kyoto targets, it would be less than 3 months worth of CHINA'S emissions, and China isn't bound by Kyoto in the first place. Maybe you'd feel happy about destroying the Canadian economy, but it does NOTHING about the issue you claim is so important.

Jacques Beau Vert said...

if Canada was to pull out all the stops to meet those Kyoto targets, it would be less than 3 months worth of CHINA'S emissions, and China isn't bound by Kyoto in the first place

This outlines perfectly this environmentalist's notion of why Kyoto is a bust. It won't reduce any kind of emissions at all!

I am genuinely interested in hearing ideas of how Canada can reach the targets we want to. So far no one has had any, but I'm certain there are ideas out there I'm not aware of yet.

I'm sure there are ideas we can implement, even without being part of Kyoto.

Jacques Beau Vert said...

Read that Don Martin article:

Sources say Environment Minister John Baird regrets his initial dismissive bluster against the Kyoto-enforcing private member's bill

I'll bet he does. That guy is way too angry to be a Cabinet Minister. He's embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that you don't want to change your environmental status??? Meaning you want next generations to live in a polluted and dangerous planet? I think this is nonsense and people should think ahead.