This article originally appeared in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Philip Cross, August 2, 2022
The CBC continues to fulfill its self-assigned mandate of providing a welcoming platform for left-wing views and projects. Rob Smith, a former Statcan colleague of mine as Director of Environmental Statistics, was given a free ride on last week’s edition of CBC Radio One’s “What On Earth” while arguing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data should be published more frequently than once a year, just as economic statistics for inflation, unemployment and GDP appear monthly or quarterly.
There are several things wrong with this argument. To start with, long-run trends in GHG emissions are all that matter. Sub-annual fluctuations mostly reflect unusual weather or economic shocks such as the pandemic’s onset in 2020, not the structural shift of our society to a less carbon-intensive footing. Global emission targets are made on an annual basis and projected decades into the future for good reason.
Conversely, short-term fluctuations in the economy are important for investors and policy-makers. Not quite real-time data on the economic collapse in the spring of 2020 helped inform policy decisions, as did monthly data on the recent surge in inflation. Policy-makers have the tools to change short-term economic outcomes and should not wait quarters or years to know what is happening to the economy. On the other hand, structural shifts in emissions take a long time to develop and they’re all the matters for climate change policy.
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