Note to Trudeau government: In the middle of a deep recession, we need a low-cost carbon plan that will have the least impact on growth, writes Jack Mintz in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Jack Mintz, November 19, 2020
The Trudeau government is expected to announce this morning legislation committing Canada to “binding” five-year targets, starting in 2025, to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050. As the target is to be legislated without an enforcement mechanism, however, it’s not exactly clear what “binding” means.
Though this latest announcement may just be virtue-signalling it actually makes sense not to enforce “commitments.” It would make even more sense not to legislate them. We don’t know the decarbonization plan. We don’t know the cost of various decarbonization options, nor the technologies required to achieve them. And if other countries fail to achieve the same objective despite their “commitments,” we could incur considerable economic loss with little benefit in reducing climate change threats.
Climate change is a global issue, requiring global co-operative action. If the past tells us anything, the world has reduced both energy and emissions intensity per unit of GDP by substituting cheap natural gas for coal, improving energy efficiency and increasing its use of renewables and bio-energy.
Where technologies are not widely available or affordable, however, especially in the industrial and long-haul transportation sectors, emissions have not fallen. According to the International Energy Agency, global CO2 emissions rose 10 per cent between 2010 and 2019, from 30.2 Gt (gigatonnes) to 33.3 Gt. While advanced countries reduced CO2 emissions by nine per cent, other parts of the world increased emissions by 22 per cent over the same period.