Tracking the Evolution of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Back on December 14, 1996 when Terence Corcoran was a journalist for the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business (ROB) section they published an article he wrote titled “Just say no to Rio target”. Twenty-six years later it is worth re-reading the article bearing in mind the continuing and unfolding debacle it started the developed countries on shortly after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992!

Here it is:

ROB Column The Globe and Mail TERENCE CORCORAN December 14, 1996, 

Just say no to Rio target

CANADA will not meet the greenhouse gas emissions target agreed to at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. Thank goodness. If Ottawa and the provinces had tried to force us to live up to the unreal energy consumption target former prime minister Brian Mulroney signed on to four years ago during a Green binge, the Canadian economy would be in bad shape today.

To meet the target, Canada would have to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. According to the latest sophisticated computer simulations and forecasts — which are invariably wrong, by the way — Canadian industries and consumers will emit about 500 megatons of carbon in the year 2000, about 9 per cent more than we did in 1990. To meet the targets, therefore, Canada would have to cut energy use by about 10 per cent, a $20-billion economic hit that would significantly lower growth  and employment.

Not meeting the target is, in any case, almost totally irrelevant. Canada is not, as Environment Minister Sergio Marchi said the other day, “behind the eight ball” over the target — unless we insist on shooting it at ourselves. Regardless of the spin put on the target by environment ministers and writers, the target will not and should not be met for several powerful reasons. In the first place, the summit agreement is not legally binding. We can just say no. The targets never had any legitimacy in Canada anyway.

The Rio Summit was an orgy of ultra vires agreement-signing and back-room politicking by thousands of bureaucrats and special interest groups. No Canadian other than lobbyists and envirocrats ever saw the Framework Convention on Climate Change that supposedly commits Canada to reduce carbon emissions by the year 2000. No public support was sought for the accord, no parliamentary hearings were held, nobody knew what the agreement meant, nobody even knew the thing had been signed.

No wonder Ottawa and the provinces can’t get Canadians to go along with the carbon taxes and other drastic measures proposed over the years. Most Canadians probably also suspect that the targets are arbitrary, and of no significance to the scientific problem they’re intended to resolve. As author Gregg Easterbrook said in A Moment on the Earth: “Will the goal of the treaty, stabilization of carbon emissions at the 1990 level, prevent global warming? The answer is: Not a snowball’s chance in, well, Alberta, should the warming occur.”

Note that last phrase: “Should the warming occur” is still the operative cautionary principle surrounding global warming. Despite the reams of material and reports, the scientific basis for predicting that human energy consumption will cause a significant increase in temperature, or that temperature increases are necessarily bad for human life, remains highly uncertain. But even if we assume the worst, that warming is something that should raise a global call for action, it makes little sense to load a country like Canada with major regulatory burdens and growth-hindering taxes. Canada’s share of the world’s energy market is minuscule by any measure that’s reasonably proportionate to the greenhouse gas problem.

Greens and envirocrats often make Canada look like a pollution hell by citing per capita energy consumption figures. For example, in 1995, Canadian per capita production of carbon dioxide was 4.4 tonnes, third highest in the world behind Australia and the United States. But there are many reasons for this, including our cold climate, heavy production of primary resources and secondary goods, and vast geography.

Another faulty measure of Canada’s role is the country’s share of energy production as a percentage of the global total: 2.2 per cent. The U.S. share is 25 per cent, China’s 13 per cent, France’s 1.7 per cent. However, this raw measure is also inadequate because it fails to take into account Canada’s geographic scale. Any proper assessment of Canada’s role in the global economy would have to incorporate the fact that Canada’s geographic land and air mass is massive.

A more accurate indicator of Canada’s relative role would be a measure based on the ratio of emissions to national air mass. Compared with other countries — France, the United States or just about any other nation — Canada’s share of world emissions as a proportion of total geography would be insignificant.Even if greenhouse warming is a looming crisis, assigning Canada emission reduction targets that are identical to other countries turns Canada into a sacrificial lamb to global environmentalism. Canada’s 30 million people could stop living tomorrow, and the trend of greenhouse warming would not change.”

Letter to the Editor December 20, 1996

Shortly after the article appeared Jack Gibbons, (current Chair of the OCAA) sent a letter to the Globe and Mail which they posted. Anyone following my blog and posts over the past number of years are aware of Gibbons push to shut down electricity generation from fossil and nuclear fuel in Ontario and replace it with unreliable and intermittent wind and solar.  The following is the Gibbons letter:

Toronto — According to Terence Corcoran, if Canada stabilizes its carbon dioxide emissions, our gross national product and our unemployment rate will rise (Just Say No To Rio Target — Dec. 14).

Fortunately for our planet’s life support systems and future generations, Mr. Corcoran is wrong.

Numerous studies have shown that there is not a tradeoff between substantial reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and economic growth. For example, the Ontario Carbon Dioxide Collaborative recently developed a strategy to reduce Ontario’s carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2005 and reduce the energy costs of Ontario’s residential, commercial and industrial consumers.

According to the collaborative’s report, these dual objectives can be achieved by fuel switching from coal and oil to natural gas and by increasing our economy’s energy efficiency.

Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy.”

At this point it is worth a brief look at where Canada is today (2020 stats) versus 1996 in respect to total and per capita emissions. The Government of Canada post of emissions is only to the end of 2020 and notes they were 672 megatonnes and if one examines their chart it suggests in 1996, they were at the same level.  On a per capita basis however, they declined as the 1996 Census indicated Canada’s population was 28.8 million whereas in 2020 the population level had increased to 38.1 million.  Doing the math suggests Canada has reduced emissions by 24.5% on a per capita basis.

Greenhouse gas emissions, Canada, 1990 to 2020

If we look at China’s emissions over that same time frame they have increased from 3,503 megatonnes in 1996 to 10,668 megatonnes in 2020 for an increase of 7,165 megatonnes or 204.5%. Total global emissions in 2020 were 34,810 megatonnes so China’s emissions in 2020 represented 30.6% of global emissions but back in 1996 they represented only 14.5%.

As Canada has increased its “Annual Canadian Crude Oil Production by Crude Oil Typefrom 1996 daily production of 2,000 barrels per day to 4,687 barrels per day for an increase of 134% it would suggest our emissions should have shown a massive increase but they haven’t!

Perhaps it’s time our inane political leaders under Justin Trudeau and his minion, Jagmeet Singh, stop doing what they are trying to do to destroy the Canadian economy!