GUEST COLUMN: Canada’s climate change plans all pain, no gain

By Tom Harris

Despite the federal Conservatives repeatedly asking the government how much their plans for carbon taxes will cost, the true cost is still a closely guarded secret. Some numbers have surfaced, however. The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s Report stated that the proposed federal carbon tax will suck $10 billion out of Canada’s economy in 2022.

Dr. Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, explains, “Any policy to achieve our Paris Agreement on climate change emission targets will be expensive, with or without a ‘carbon tax.’ The Conservatives will likely propose regulations alone; the Liberals are proposing regulations plus taxes. Economic theory says taxes alone (which no one is offering) could be cheapest but it doesn’t tell us which of the others will be costliest.”

Canadians are justified to wonder what will actually be accomplished by such plans?

Environment and Climate Change Canada estimates that the adoption of carbon pricing (taxes plus emissions trading), if done in all provinces and territories, will reduce national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80-90 million tonnes below the levels that would otherwise apply in 2022. Dr. Patrick Michaels, Director of the Center for the Study of Science at The Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy research organization, explained that, using the model employed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 90 million tonne per year reduction will result in between 0.001 and 0.002 degress Celsius less global warming by 2100 than would otherwise occur, depending on the assumed sensitivity of the atmosphere to changes in GHG.

If asked about this by the Conservatives, the government would likely ignore the question and assert that Canada must set an example for the world to follow in the fight to ‘save the climate.’ Indeed, that was the approach of former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy when she was asked in Congressional hearings about the climatic impact of the U.S. Clean Power Plan. The Institute for Energy Research speculated after her 2014 hearing, “The likely reason McCarthy is reticent to discuss the actual effect on climate is because the impact is very small. It turns out that if you use EPA’s MAGICC model, the impact of this rule would reduce the rise in global temperatures by only 0.137 degrees Celsius by 2100.”

Setting a good example would make sense if a man-made climate crisis was known to be imminent and developing nations, the source of most of the world’s emissions, were likely to follow our lead.

But many scientists question man’s role in climate change, and developing countries clearly have no intention of limiting their development for ‘climate protection’ purposes. Besides the fact that, under the Paris Agreement, China, for example, can increase its emissions until 2030, developing nations may never have to restrict their emissions.

Article 4 in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the foundation of Paris, states: “Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.” This stipulation does not apply to developed nations.

Actions to significantly reduce GHG emissions in developing countries would usually require cutting back on the use of coal. However, as coal is typically the least expensive source of power, reducing emissions by restricting coal use would undoubtedly interfere with development priorities. So, developing countries almost certainly won’t do it, citing UNFCCC Article 4 as their excuse.

Thus, no matter what one believes about the causes of climate change, Canada’s actions will have negligible impact. Why will no one bring this up in the House of Commons?

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies