Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The madness continues

Jeffrey Simpson is right to point out the inefficiency of carbon capture and storage projects as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions - a particularly glaring problem when CCS is effectively the only idea dealing with climate change which the Cons are bothering to fund. But Simpson does manage to underestimate the Cons' uselessness on the issue by assuming they can't do worse when they've already done so:
Let's be generous and assume the two projects costing $1.6-billion do in fact bury 2.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the most-prevalent gas contributing to global warming. Such a reduction would mean a per-tonne carbon-reduction cost of about $761 – staggeringly, wildly, mind-blowingly higher than any other conceivable measure designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Want a contrast? Alberta has a piddling carbon tax on emissions over a certain level that companies can avoid by paying $15 a tonne into an technology fund.
Now, one can fairly say that measures that expensive and inefficient should be utterly inconceivable. But the Cons have managed to waste public dollars on far worse ideas.

Compare the CCS cost to such earlier Con excuses for emission reduction programs as their now-defunct transit pass tax credit - whose final price tag came in at a neat $10,000 per tonne. Or their car purchase tax credit, whose cost was calculated at over $5,000 per tonne.

In other words, the Cons had long since set the standard for the world's least effective environmental programs. Which means that while CCS may indeed be "mind-blowingly" inefficient compared to any reasonable standard, it's pretty much par for the course from the Cons.

But then, one can easily make the argument that none of the Cons' schemes was actually "designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions". (Indeed, they later tried to defend their transit program by claiming that we shouldn't worry about whether it actually accomplished what it set out to do.) But the fact that the Cons have cynically used billions of dollars worth of public money which was supposed to benefit the environment on a combination of vote-buying and corporate pandering should remind us that the pork-barrelling and waste in this year's stimulus funding is nothing new from the Harper government.


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