Saturday, March 05, 2016

On gross excesses

It shouldn't be news to anybody interested in climate change (and the Wall government's role in exacerbating it) that Saskatchewan has a shameful track record in polluting our atmosphere. But Joseph Heath summarizes just how embarrassed we should be:
Keep in mind that the general target we want to get to, globally, is around 2 CO2/tonnes per person. This makes “Canada” seem a long way off. But if you look more carefully, some provinces are a lot closer than others. Quebec is at 9.7 (because of hydro power), and even Ontario is at a not-so-bad 12.5 (and that’s before implementing cap-and-trade, just by abolishing coal). The numbers from Alberta and Saskatchewan though are insane — 64 and 68.8 CO2/tonne per person respectively. (It is worth noting that SK is not the worst offender in absolute terms, it just has a low population compared to Alberta.) This is of course tar sands production (and coal dependence). What’s amazing is that this only counts up the emissions associated with producing synthetic crude. To the extent that the oil subsequently leaves those provinces, the contents of what is in the barrels does not count toward the Alberta and SK emissions totals.
And those numbers are particularly worth highlighting in the wake of Brad Wall's attempt to put off any emission reductions or carbon pricing whatsoever.

Of course, it's silly enough to insist that carbon prices be avoided when oil prices are down, given that they'd both plug some of the government's fiscal hole in the short term, and minimize any disruption to consumers compared to adding extra costs when prices are already high.

But when we put the scope of our emission excesses in the context of the emission level our planet can handle, Wall's position is the equivalent of someone who regularly gorges himself on 34 unhealthy meals a day complaining that he has to put off changing his diet in the slightest. And while he may see short-term and political benefits in saying we should keep pigging out rather than even considering how to get healthier, Saskatchewan's voters might want to insist on making at least some change for the better.

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