CanWEA’s “White Paper” opens doors to lower rates

Shortly after CanWEA’s President, Robert Hornung lamented about the Ontario governments cancellation of an industrial wind turbine project a post on their blog raved about a recently released whitepaper* titled “Wind Energy and the Ontario Market”. The paper was prepared specifically for the Canadian Wind Energy Association by Power Advisory LLC. The latter is the employer of Jason Chee-Aloy, former Director, Generation Procurement with the OPA (Ontario Power Authority), a McGuinty creation that has merged with IESO. One should assume Mr. Chee-Aloy played a significant role in contracting the many wind and solar projects by the OPA spread throughout the province and was probably the author of the “whitepaper”!  He presumably knows his way around the contracts he instigated.

The 45 page “paper” is sprinkled liberally with acronyms including one labelled “EAs” or environmental attributes and notes: “Within nearly all IESO contracts, the IESO retains ownership of all EAs, or similar non-emitting products, produced by generators under these contracts.  This is definitely the case for all wind generators under IESO contracts, no matter the contract type or vintage.”

While ratepayers would disagree with many recommendations in the paper the ones related to the foregoing suggesting IESO monetize those EAs has merit as noted in Recommendation # 6:

The wind energy industry should work with the IESO and other contract counterparty generators to explore monetizing associated EAs/RECs, where the revenues from the sale of EAs/RECs would be shared between these generators and the IESO.  The IESO could then credit all Ontario electricity customers with these revenues helping to lower electricity costs for them.”

No doubt, most ratepayers in the province would agree if we can monetize those EAs lets’ do it; BUT there is no need to share any revenue generated with the operators as they already receive well above market rates from those contracts that drove up electricity costs.

The monetization process would result in the issuance of “renewable energy certificates” (RECs) which could be sold by IESO in the carbon/emissions trading market and all revenues could be applied by them to reduce ratepayers’ monthly bills.

While we’re at it let’s do the same for solar, biomass, hydro and nuclear generation which are all deemed “emissions free”!

If the existing wind contracts can’t be cancelled let IESO at least be directed to generate revenue for the benefit of all ratepayers without sharing any of the revenue with the generators.

The other benefit that may well occur is the ability for the Ford led government to argue against the carbon tax imposed by the Federal Government in the upcoming Surpreme Court appeal.

This could turn into a big win for Ontario’s ratepayers and taxpayers!

*The term “white papers” originated in England as government-issued documents. One famous example is the Churchill White Paper, commissioned by Winston Churchill in 1922. Today, the term is most commonly applied to “deep dive” style publications.

Ontario ratepayers and taxpayers pay up for Hydro One’s Niagara transmission line

The 76-kilometre Niagara transmission line, meant to strengthen power ties between New York State and Ontario, with a capacity to import/export as much as 800 megawatts of electricity has finally been completed.

Recently, information submitted to the OEB (EB-2018-0275) in a rate application stated: “The Project was originally approved by the Ontario Energy Board on July 8, 2005 pursuant to EB-2004-0476 but construction was halted in 2006 until earlier this year due to a third-party land dispute.

The Niagara transmission line was finally completed August 30, 2019, or over 14 years after construction started. It’s been a long road!

The decision and order from the OEB blessed the application (they generally do for Hydro One) noting; “Niagara Reinforcement Limited Partnership’s (NRLP) interim 2020 revenue requirement request of $9,389,914 is approved.”

The approval for NRLP rather than Hydro One is a reflection of well over a decade of negotiations to satisfy the Six Nations of the Grand River and, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.  Contained in a note in the 3rd Quarter financial results of Hydro One, indicates a portion of the Niagara line was sold to them in the entity now referenced as NRLP. The pertinent part of the audit note stated:  “Hydro One Networks sold to the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation and, through a trust, to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation a 25.0% and 0.1% equity interest in NRLP partnership units, respectively, for total consideration of $12 million, representing the fair value of the equity interest acquired.”  The Mississaugas also hold an option to purchase another 20%. NRLP was created for the sole purpose of allowing that to happen.

On November 5, 2015 an article headlined “Powerline to nowhere” on CTV, noted the cost of the line to that point was $100 million plus $54.5 million in interest payments (including $5 million in interest payments for 2016).  If one adds another $10 million in interest payments for 2017 and 2018 it appears the total cost of the Niagara line was in the neighbourhood of $165 million at a minimum.  In NRLP’s submission to the OEB the actual costs of the line were claimed to be $120 million, but it’s unclear if that included any interest. Either way the cost of the line was north of $165 million yet 25% of it was sold for $12 million which seems like a pretty good deal.  Details on the Mississaugas option were not disclosed.

It should be noted Hydro One had to seek an injunction in July 2019, after repeated attempts were made to block work on the transmission project.  They stated; “Work stopped again in January when members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) blocked access to the construction sites and issued a “cease and desist” order.  The CBC reported; “Hydro One’s statement of claim says the defendants “have a long history of organizing blockades, causing public disruption, breaching court orders” and interfering with land development and utilities as a tactic to negotiate compensation and other benefits to members of the Confederacy.”  The article also said: “The Six Nations and Mississaugas will have 45 per cent ownership* of the project, said Hydro One, and the project will create jobs and economic benefits.”  The injunction was granted by the judge in that appeal and as noted the line was completed August 30, 2019

The estimated cost of the line (north of $165 million) mentioned above has now been passed on to Ontario ratepayers via the OEB decision.  There were lots of other costs picked up by taxpayers in Ontario** and the rest of Canada as suggested in the partial list of material contained in the Chronology of Events at Caledonia in the former Federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Ministry website suggesting the other activities associated with the happenings in Caledonia also may have cost the Canadian taxpayers as much or more than the $165 million associated with the Niagara transmission line but that is for someone else to determine.

Conclusion

Perhaps we in Ontario should be grateful for the delay in completing the transmission line as it prevented the sale of even more of our surplus power from wind and solar etc. to New York for pennies on the dollar. The delay may have accidentally saved us ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars due to the 14 years it took to complete.

*Acquisition details related to the Mississaugas’ 20% purchase option are not available but are believed to expire quickly.

** The Ontario government agreed to pay $20 million to residents and business owners of Caledonia who suffered through the native protest at a housing development in Caledonia.

Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration, Phase Four

As Yogi Berra once said, “it’s déjà vu all over again”!

My somewhat relentless review of the electricity sector started about 10 years ago as Ontario embarked on the unmitigated disaster that was the Green Energy Act and its focus on acquiring unreliable wind and solar generation. I was recently reminded; many of the ENGO names and individuals associated with my research back then are still around and have become more verbose. They are imbibing in more of the panic exercised years ago and using more tax dollars in the process. That conclusion was reached by researching the “collaborators” participating in the captioned, connecting names, reviewing websites and CRA’s Charities files to see where the money comes from and where it goes.  Those ENGO and individuals have moved on from renewable energy worship to “carbon tax” endorsement!

One example was one of those chosen as an expert collaborator highlighted in Phase Three.  MaRS Discovery District, a creation of the McGuinty led, Ontario Liberal ruling party. In 2014, MaRS received $26.7 million from the province and zero from the Feds. In 2018 the province gave them $31.7 and the Feds coughed up $2.9 million.  In other words, our tax dollars to them increased $7.8 million (29.2%) in four years.  Most readers will recall Ontario’s taxpayers bailed out MaRS failed real estate deal to the tune of $308 million. MaRS also receives revenue from other charities ($2.8 million in 2018) and hands out money to other charities such as Evergreen, (somewhere between $100/$500 thousand) one of the other “collaborators” in the P-CEC group.  MaRS also handed out grants to CEGN (Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network), a Bruce Lourie creation renamed Environment Funders Canada. Lourie is President of the Ivey Foundation another “collaborator” in the P-CEC group.

From outward appearances the chosen ones are destined to tell PM Trudeau’s government and his new “Environment Minister”, Jonathan Wilkinson, how much to UP the “carbon tax”!  MaRS, as noted in Phase Three, also received grants from the Trillium Foundation (provincially owned) and were granted money from another McGuinty creation; Friends of the Greenbelt (FOTG)–funded by taxpayers and another member of Environment Funders Canada. FOTG hand out grants to ENGO’s such as Environmental Defence where Lourie once held a vaunted position. As an aside the CEO of MaRS earns a salary north of $350,000 annually-not too shabby for a registered charity!

Now let’s look at two more of the “collaborators” connected with the Ivey Foundation:

Evergreen and Future Cities Canada—a P-CEC “collaborator”

It’s unclear what Evergreen brings to the table as a collaborator as their focus for almost 20 years has been to convert an old brickworks plant into what is an urban farmer’s and garden market.  Their CEO doesn’t appear to have a degree related to “climate” issues but according to their filing with the CRA it appears he may be paid in excess of $250K per year. Evergreen have done a remarkable job at raising charitable funds over the years, so, maybe that is the key to being chosen.  Revenue in 2008 was $5.758 million and in 2018 was $21.762 million, an increase of 277% in only 10 years.  Their 2018 annual report shows they received over $1 million from both the Provincial and Federal governments and over $500K from the Trillium Foundation (Lourie was a former Director and Trillium are members of Environment Funders Canada). The J. W. McConnell Foundation is also included in the same contributing group as Trillium and also have been a major grantor to one of the Lourie creations (more on that one in the future) and are also members of Environment Funders Canada. They donated $1.1 million in 2017 and $775 thousand in 2018 to Evergreen. In reviewing the Trillium grants listing, it shows they have granted over $1.8 million over the past few years to Evergreen.  MaRS (another collaborator) is credited with donating somewhere between $50K to $100K in 2018 and the same in earlier years. The Ivey Foundation has granted them at least $60K in the past few years.

Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), Simon Fraser University—a P-CEC “collaborator”

Often when researching individuals involved in predicting the end of the world due to “climate change” one finds the parties leading the predictions have little or no affiliation with the sciences needed to logically develop that line of thought.  In the case of ACT, it is led by Deborah Harford.  Ms. Harford is the Executive Director of ACT and her formal training indicates she holds an SFU “Bachelor of Communications and English, Communication and Media Studies”.  Ms. Harford is active in posting any articles favouring the concept of “climate change” as one would expect from her degree, but she posts none on the ACT website with a differing view. SFU prides itself on its affiliation with similar institutions including Clean Energy Canada (launched by Tides Canada) as they attract donations from charitable institutions such as the IVEY Foundation* (over $1 million since 2014), $900K from the McConnell Family Foundation, $2.3 million from the Trottier Family Foundation (another P-CEC “collaborator”!   Both of the latter are members of Environment Funders Canada.

Perhaps if one augments the perceptions of those handing out the grants, the money will continue to flow, to those who produce the prejudicial and supportive reports the grantor sought!  Just an abstract thought!

While Phases one through four of this series have raised the connection concept of the Ivey Foundation’s relationship with six of the P-CEC named “collaborators” there are a few more of interest. The tale of the tangled web will continue in the next Phase!

*A few hundred thousand dollars was also granted to Tides Canada.

OPG 3rd Quarter 2019 results best since 2010

OPG released their 3rd Quarter results November 12, 2019 and no one noticed!

They had the best 3rd Quarter results since 2010, generating net income of $323 million up $48 million or 17.2% over 2018.  Generation was up modestly by .8 TWh (terawatt hours) or 4.4% with nuclear generation up 1 TWh to 11.6 TWh and hydro down by .2 TWh from 7 TWh to 6.8 TWh.  In the latter case the report notes “foregone” (spilled hydro) increased to .7 TWh in the 3rd Quarter (up from .4 TWh in 2018). The .7 TWh “foregone” could have supplied 300,000 average Ontario households in the quarter.

Revenue was up year over year by $138 million or 9.8% and the principal reason was the blessing from the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) to start the recovery process on the Darlington nuclear refurbishment process. It’s now in the third year of the 10-year plan.  As a result, just over $100 million of the increase in revenue came from increased prices on nuclear generation.  Comments in the report state: “The Darlington Refurbishment project, the execution of which began in 2016, continues to track on schedule overall and to the $12.8 billion budget.”  Let’s hope that continues! The rest of the increase came from the hydro sector and perhaps from the acquisitions made in the US by OPG.

The report notes, OPG generation in the quarter represented 50.4% of total generation (including net exports) in the province as reported by IESO up from 48.7% in the comparable 2018 quarter.

One disturbing find in the report marked as: Environmental and Sustainability went on to note:

Under the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (GGPPA), an Output-Based Pricing System (OBPS) for industrial facilities took effect on January 1, 2019 and a fuel charge came into effect on April 1, 2019 in Ontario. On July 10, 2019, OBPS regulations were published, including fuel-specific performance standards for electricity generation that apply retroactively beginning January 1, 2019. OPG has implemented processes to comply with the federal requirements and recover associated carbon costs to the extent possible.”

With the recent announcement OPG will acquire TC Energy’s (formerly TransCanada Corporation) portfolio of Ontario gas plants for $2.87 billion, one would assume under the GGPPA the Federal Government will seek increased fuel charges. The increased charges will result in OPG’s application for a rate increase to the OEB so that those costs will further increase the cost of electricity in Ontario.

The demise of the Wynne/McGuinty government who were responsible for Ontario’s electricity rates more than doubling during their term in office is over. Ontario ratepayers hoped to see a slowdown in those increases.  Now it looks to be taken over by the Feds who will impose their concept on how to generate our electricity.

There appears to be no end in sight to cleaning up the electricity mess in the province!

Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration, Phase three

The collaboration alluded to in Phases one and two of this series are expanded on below. Those who read all three will hopefully recognize exactly what the “collaboration” seems designed to create.  Whatever unfolds in reports from the P-CEC appears certain to endorse a further burden on tax-payers in the form of increased “carbon taxes” beyond those currently envisaged.  As our former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper put it in defining “carbon taxes”: “they are attractive to governments simply because they raise revenue reliably.  In other words, they are not effective at reducing emissions.”

The two earlier articles suggested the collaborative group assembled may have been substantially influenced by Bruce Lourie, a major player in getting Ontario’s Liberal Party to pass the GEA. The GEA focused on closing two coal plants in Ontario and professed; we could cheaply replace them with industrial wind and solar energy and create 50,000 jobs.  Ontario ratepayers know how that unfolded!

Phase two in the series brought out the interests of the “insurance industry” and their support of the alleged “climate emergency” declared by an “Act of Parliament”.  The article singled out two individuals who will play a key role in orchestrating recommendations to our, soon to be announced, Environment and Climate Change Minister.

Shortly after the winning bid announcement by Minister McKenna, Insurance Business Canada had an article stating:  “According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), the group will generate research and advice in three specific areas – carbon pricing, clean energy development, and strategies for climate-change adaptation – as “an independent, standalone organization.” and, “According to Feltmate, (refer Phase two) insurance claims for catastrophic loss events in Canada between 1983 and 2008 were in the range of $250 million to $400 million annually. However, in nine out of the last 10 years, catastrophic losses have gone over $1 billion, adjusted for inflation.”  This sets the tone for their upcoming recommendations!  I and others I’ve spoken with wonder, why, in view of insurance losses in Ontario, in respect to “flooding”, the Insurance Industry haven’t sued the IJC (International Joint Commission) for their instigation of “Plan 2014” raising water levels in Lake Ontario in particular, and causing hundreds of millions in losses in 2017 and 2019.  The State of New York has sued!

The first of this series noted, “There among the twenty-one (21) names in the “collaboration” was the Ivey Foundation and several others Mr. Lourie either helped to create or presumably supported by providing grants via his position as President of the Ivey Foundation.”

The particular one mentioned in the earlier article was the Ecofiscal Commission.  Its address is the Department of Economics at McGill University where the Chair of the Commission, Chris Regan, is Director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy and an Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of Economics.  The Ivey Foundation in their reports to the CRA Charities files from 2015 through to the 2018 filing indicates donations to McGill/Ecofiscal were $1.122 million and reports from the “grants” information on Ivey Foundation’s report indicates from 2015 to 2018 donations totaled $806,486. Perhaps an audit by the CRA would be worth pursuing!

Needless to say, all of the recommendations from Ecofiscal where Mr. Lourie and fellow collaborators are either commissioners (Stewart Elgie of Smart Prosperity is one) or advisors (Lourie is one) who push for a “carbon tax”. The “Commission” demonstrates a strong bias in presenting “myths” about carbon taxes while presenting only facts to support the myths but not the tax.  It appears the “Commission” or Lourie used their/his influence to get other charitable foundations to fund Ecofiscal as noted in an earlier article.

Here are another two collaborators!

Smart Prosperity Institute—a P-CEC “collaborator”

Now another of those P-CEC collaborators beyond the Intact Centre and  the Ivey Foundation is (SPI) “Smart Prosperity Institute” (formerly Sustainable Prosperity) headed up by Stewart Elgie. Elgie founded Ecojustice (a charitable legal institution with 2018 revenues of $7.4 million of which $4 million was spent on compensation and almost $700 thousand on consultants).  SPI appears to be a “not for profit” institution however, as it is associated with the University of Ottawa, you can donate via them, to obtain a tax receipt. Trying to secure information via filings of their 22 funders in the CRA Charities files was almost impossible and only a couple could be directly connected to SPI.  One of those was The Green Belt Foundation (GBF got $25 million in 2005 and another $20 million in 2012 from Ontario’s Provincial taxpayers) and they granted SPI $80K.

The foregoing is ironic as the current government in Ontario is fighting the “carbon tax” but indirectly taxpayer dollars will be used to support it!  One of the SPI “funders” listed is also supplemented by Ontario taxpayers and that is the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.  All Google searches for funding from them to the SPI came up empty!  Three of the other “funders” are Federal and as one would expect include Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The only other “funder” with obtainable information was the J.W. McConnell Foundation who granted SPI  $725,000 via the University of Ottawa. The SPI did not include the Ivey Foundation in their “funders” list but they received $120,990 from them via the University of Ottawa over three years and the Ivey Foundation also provided $105,000 in grants to Elgie’s other entity—Ecojustice.  It certainly appears there is a pretty close connection between Bruce Lourie and Stewart Elgie.

MaRS Discovery District—a P-CEC “collaborator”

MaRS Discovery District was a McGuinty creation owned by the province and granted charitable status so its annual filings can be found on the CRA Charities website.  In their year ended March 31, 2018 they received $2.9 million from the Federal Government and $31.7 million from the Government of Ontario. They also received $2.8 million from other charities.  Mars in turn claim charitable expenditures of $37.7 million out of the $48.3 million in total expenditures but don’t name any recipients.  Over the past three years they have received $300,000 from the Ivey Foundation.

Ironically, the Trillium Foundation is owned by the Government of Ontario, where Bruce Lourie formerly sat as a Director.  They have granted money to MaRS, ($413,700) to (CEGN)  Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network (now called Environment Funders Canada) ($64,600) which Lourie founded and to Environmental Defence ($661,300) where he served as director and Chair of the Board when his friend Rick Smith was Executive Director.  Lourie is well connected to Tom Rand, the former head of the MaRS, “cleantech” sector

Oh, what tangled webs we weave!

Stay tuned as Phase Four will look at a few more of the P-CEC collaborators and their connections.

Who (and what) is the Ecofiscal Commission?

It recently came to light that when Canadian universities hand out doctorates thus allowing an individual to be called an “economist,” some recipients feel they can also call themselves “Commissioners” with attendant heightened gravitas.

For example, if you examine the “Ecofiscal Commission” the 13 economists are listed as “commissioners”. If you thought a “Commission”* as it relates to Canada is normally appointed by the legislature of the country or the province, you are apparently wrong.  In the spirit of appointing themselves as “commissioners” they also created the word “ecofiscal” proposing its definition as follows:

An ecofiscal policy corrects market price signals to encourage the economic activities we do want (job creation, investment, and innovation) while reducing those we don’t want (greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our land, air, and water).

Reviewing the bios of the 13 commissioners is an interesting exercise: not one seems to have spent any meaningful time working in the private sector. They are all university professors or engaged as government employees — only one appears to have actually worked for a short time outside of a government position not paid for by taxpayers.

The Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) likes “commissions” : “Indigenous Peoples Commission”, “Young Liberals of Canada”, “National Women’s Liberal Commission” and the “Senior Liberal’s Commission”.  Presumably they were also simply created without legislative involvement?

My interest in Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission was triggered by an interview on the “Agenda” that Steve Paikin had with Chris Ragan, Chair, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, and specifically the claims made by him when responding to Paikin’s questions.  The interview title was “The Battle Over Carbon Pricing” and Ragan was effective at simply walking over any of the questions posed by Paikin, providing superficial answers as if they were facts. “Commissioner” Ragan’s purpose in life seems to be to support “carbon pricing” come hell or high water!  He, his fellow commissioners and the assembled team of “Advisors” believe the science is settled and Canada, along with a few other countries, will solve the AGW/climate change/pollution (pick one) problems plaguing the world due to human consumption.

Perhaps the 13 economists/commissioners lack confidence, otherwise why would they also need 15 “Advisors” composed of representatives from the NDP (Michael Harcourt, former BC Premier), the Liberals (Paul Martin, former PM) and the Reform/Conservative Party (Preston Manning, former Leader of the Opposition) and Jim Dinning (former Alberta Treasury Minister)! The other 12 “Advisors” come from industry such as GE Canada, Mattamy Homes, TD Bank and even Suncor Energy. Sprinkled in are others with a decidedly biased view on how to save the world from global warming.  The latter include individuals like Bruce Lourie (Ivey Foundation) and Peter Robinson (former CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation).

On top of all those economists/commissioners and advisors the Ecofiscal Commission also has nine permanent staff, most of whom were drawn from the public sector.

I am unsure as to how the “Commission” survives and pays staff as it doesn’t appear to have charitable status, nor does it solicit funds via their website. It also doesn’t appear they receive funding from either the federal or provincial governments.  They do, however, thank their funders in their abbreviated and unaudited “annual reports”. The 2017 annual report (day and month not disclosed) suggest they received and spent $1.3 million with 7% ($91K) spent on “contract research.” The latter seems to be a very small amount to reach the conclusions they claim and publicize, but perhaps they are of the view that the “science is settled” and therefore their role now is to convince the masses.  That goal was noted in the Chair’s letter in the annual report which stated: “Meanwhile, as governments at every level recognize the benefits of ecofiscal instruments, we piloted a series of workshops for public servants on the practical details of designing good ecofiscal policies.”

The “Funders” consist of eight charity foundations and three corporate funders with the latter being TD Bank, Suncor Energy and KTG Public Affairs Partners, formed in 2013 by two former Liberal insiders and one NDP insider. Clicks on the TD logo and you are taken to TD’s “corporate giving” site; click on the Suncor logo you are taken to Suncor Energy Foundation. The eight charitable foundations have total assets of $1.3 billion*** and use their annual earnings to dole the funds out to apparently worthy causes. One of them, the Peter Gilgan Foundation however, seems to operate by disbursing almost all of the funds received annually by the charity. Peter Gilgan, an Ecofiscal “advisor,” is the founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes which claims to be the largest privately-owned home builder in North America. Interestingly enough all eight are members of Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network (CEGN)! CEGN was created by another “advisor,” namely, Bruce Lourie, President of the Ivey Foundation and a past Board member of the Trillium Foundation, the Ontario Power Authority and former Chair of Environmental Defence Canada. In addition, two of the corporate members of CEGN are Suncor Energy Foundation and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. (It should be noted Mr. Lourie together with Rick Smith, former CEO of Environmental Defence, are also two-time winners of the prestigious Financial Post’s “Rubber Duckies” award!)

It’s obvious the economists/commissioners, advisors and funders of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commissioner are firm believers in climate change and represent a major force in supporting those beliefs.  They seem willing to cause great pain to Canadian families through advocating for a carbon tax despite questions about the effectiveness of such a tax, and Canada’s role in global warming generally.  Imposing a carbon tax in Canada while countries representing 86% of global emissions do nothing, will make Canada un-competitive and reflect in lost jobs and considerable harm to low-income families.

 

PARKER GALLANT

 

Coming soon: Part two, an exploration of the Agenda interview with Chris Randal, Chief Commissioner of Ecofiscal.

*The Federal Government has had a Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development dating back to at least 2002.

**Merriam Webster’s definition of “economist” is simply; “one who practices economy”.

***Based on the writer’s review of the latest financial statements filed by the eight foundations on the CRA “charities” site.

 

Is it time for Canada to claim environmental hero status?

Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are well below the world average and despite a resource extraction economy, our air pollution improvement is among the best in the world—so why are we made to feel so guilty?

Recently, I discussed to how politicians continue to “virtue signal when advocating for renewable energy.  And sometimes, they omit facts. That might be because the omitted facts fail to support the “virtue” they are promoting, like a clean green environment, or maybe, the politicians don’t feel the need to discuss  cost/benefit or examine that closely.

New information has come to light as to why politicians leave out the facts sometimes.

On December 19, 2018 an article by Philip Cross published in the Financial Post on renewable energy was blunt in its lede: “StatCan just exposed how worthless ‘green’ industries are to Canada’s economy” — that was exactly what many have long suspected.  Mr. Cross  detailed how false or exaggerated information is fed to politicians by proponents of ventures (wind and solar power, for example) and how those politicians in turn, embarked on “virtuous” actions, based on those supposed facts.

They issue press releases which are then gobbled up by the media for the masses to digest.

Excerpts from the Cross article highlight the failings of those “green” industries. 

“Environmental and clean-technology industries accounted for a puny 3.1 per cent of Canada’s GDP in 2017. More importantly, StatCan noted that this ratio has remained relatively stable since 2007 when the data began. The green economy’s share of GDP stagnated for 10 of the biggest years for pro-green policies and hefty government support, and against historically slow growth in the rest of the economy. If the green economy cannot flourish in these circumstances, it is doubtful it ever will.

The green economy is even less important for jobs, contributing only 1.6 per cent of total employment. If clean-tech and green-tech are the jobs of tomorrow, as their boosters tirelessly claim, then our job prospects are bleak indeed.”

A few weeks after the StatCan report, another discovery the media apparently missed (or ignored) came to light.

At some point in early 2018, just before the Wynne-led Ontario government lost the election, Global Affairs Canada issued a 144-page Voluntary National Review in respect to the 2030 Agenda.  The “Agenda” was a precursor to The Paris Agreement and the synergies in respect to aligning issues related to climate change are significant.

Here are a just few examples:

  1. “The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the poorest and most-vulnerable populations affected by climate change and has committed $2.65 billion in climate finance by 2020-2021 to help developing countries transition to a lower-carbon, climate-resilient economy.”
  2. “The Investing in Canada Plan allocates $9.2 billion to provinces and territories for green infrastructure investments to support mitigation projects, build infrastructure to help communities respond and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate, and build other green infrastructure that supports a healthy environment, including water and wastewater infrastructure.”
  3. “Significant investments are being made to develop a national network of charging and re-fuelling stations for alternative fuel vehicles. This infrastructure will enable Canadians to use lower-carbon or zero-emission vehicles.”
  4. ”In addition, Canada is working with its continental partners on the North American Renewable Integration Study (NARIS). By 2019, NARIS is expected to identify the key opportunities and challenges of integrating large amounts of wind, solar and hydro capacity into the North American electricity grid.”
  5. “Clean, non-emitting electricity systems will be the cornerstone of a modern, lower-carbon economy. Several programs have been introduced to support this goal, including initiatives to reduce the use of diesel in rural and remote areas, including for Indigenous communities, and support renewable power technologies, such as geothermal, tidal and offshore wind projects.”

Those five examples are a demonstration of the current Canadian government’s belief that simply spending billions of Canadian tax dollars in Canada and around the world will somehow impact climate change.

Climate change advocacy via continued virtue signaling about a carbon-tax is being challenged by several provinces; however, Canada’s federal government seems intent on causing further damage to Canada’s economy despite the evidence on “green” fails by StatCan.

The “Voluntary National Review” suggests how the spending will be paid for: “… revenues from oil and gas production will help fund the lower-carbon transition.” Clearly, “revenues from oil and gas production” is a reference to the “carbon tax” which will increase substantially over a short time period, affecting all Canadians and pushing our economic prospects down as those “revenues” a.k.a. “carbon taxes” drive up the price of everything we consume.

The “Review” references other reports/studies, for example, The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and a report on health, the “Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project [which] ranked air pollution as the fourth-leading risk factor contributing to early deaths (6.9 million deaths worldwide) each year. In Canada, the GBD ranked air pollution as the 11th leading risk factor for premature death.”

The GBD report compares data from 2007 to 2017 and provides + or – percentages. For Canada, the drop in the “air pollution” risk factor was negative 17.5% and appears to be one of the biggest drops of any country. Surprisingly, Poland which gets 80% of its electricity from coal, shows a drop of 14.4%. China was up by 1.7% whereas India was down 2.7% and the USA by 5%. Germany (the bastion of renewable energy) was down by only 2.7%. This data suggests Canada is a leader in reducing air pollution.

As one would expect, the Review says a lot about GHGs and climate change, and laid out reputed accomplishments and future plans. The Review also lectures us, telling us to use less: “The best energy is the energy we do not use. By doing more with less, Canadians can significantly reduce GHG emissions, save money, improve their environment and make their homes more comfortable.”

Most of us heard similar lectures by the Ontario Liberal government (Premier Wynne once chided Ontarians for being “bad actors” when it came to electricity use) and we did consume less. However, we failed to see any savings. In fact, we paid more for less!  (Voters didn’t buy the non-truths, judging from the election results last June.)

On the issue of GHG emissions the data available is extensive and varying.  A simple Google search on list of countries by carbon dioxide emission provides almost 8.7 million hits. Canadians are generally told they contribute 1.6% of Global GHG and from what was available in reviewing some Google links, that appears to be in the ballpark.

One measure where Canada seems to stand out favourably is in the measurement of “Emissions (kg) per $1,000 [US$] of GDP” despite our dependence on agriculture, energy, forestry and mining which collectively represent over 50% of our exports.  Canada’s emissions were 301.0 kg/$1,000 of GDP versus the world average of 490.8 kg. The USA is 324.2 kg and China is 1,235.0/kg. France stands out as the lowest at 110.5 kg and Uzbekistan is the highest at 1960.9.

Taking all this into account, and with the knowledge that Canada is leading the world in reducing air pollution while actually being a low emitter of GHGs in respect to our GDP, and despite our dependence on extraction of natural resources including oil and gas, the question is this — why is the Government of Canada demanding a carbon tax from us and penalizing us domestically with useless intermittent renewable energy and massive conservation spending? With only 1.6% of global emissions we are unable to save the world.

It’s time to let the rest of the world and their 98.4% of emissions catch up!

PARKER GALLANT