Climate Change

Contortions of logic and promises

Following the Paris agreement in 2015, Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to reduce the nation’s annual greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

As of 2019, according to the federal government, emissions had been been reduced one per cent below 2005. Even that reduction is suspect because the release of methane from production and movement of oil and gas is inadequately measured. Of course, Canada takes no responsibility for emissions from Canadian oil and gas exported and burned elsewhere in the world.

Oil and gas extraction in Canada has been subsidized with tens of billions of dollars since Trudeau’s 2015 promise, but not because the industry is an extraordinary producer of Canadian jobs. Statistics Canada reported that during 2020, direct jobs from O&G extraction totalled 0.35% of the country’s industrial aggregate. In British Columbia, the number is 0.24%.

Why are Canadian politicians so determined to increase fossil fuel production when science says unequivocally that it must be reduced?

Largely because governments and people operating within are comfortable maintaining the status quo and pretending everything is all right. As Voltaire wrote:

One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.

Greenpeace offered eight reasons to begin a managed decline of the industry. The organization asserts fossil fuel companies are:

  1. Wrecking our climate,
  2. Spending to lock-in climate pollution,
  3. Causing deadly air pollution,
  4. Causing water pollution,
  5. Perpetuating environmental injustice,
  6. Treating workers unfairly,
  7. Misleading the public about the climate threat,
  8. Attacking solutions, while raking in tax breaks.

An industry doing this harm is undeserving of massive financial support from taxpayers. But those who profit from fossil fuel production have outsized political influence. That is particularly true in western Canada where the corporatocracy is powerful.

In British Columbia, public revenue from natural gas production has declined hugely in the second decade of the 21st century, but production has been accelerating:

BC’s NDP government levies severe taxes on fossil fuels to discourage consumption by citizens. That is an appropriate policy choice but the same government provides gas companies multi-billion dollar public subsidies to encourage increased production.

Leading politicians pretend coal, oil and gas are free of environmental harm if the fuels are burned in places other than British Columbia.

5 replies »

  1. Hi Norm;

    You have given focus to what politicians seem to always do, “listen to what I say but ignore what I do”.

    About 70 years ago the then PM responded to Canadian public pressure in the matter of unfair taxation of Canadians. The appointment of Carter Royal Commission was the typical escape from accountability used by all politicians , a kick the can down the road practice.

    Carter and team found all the evidence needed to conclude that our tax system was indeed unfair but for his trouble, the government attacked and ridiculed Cater and team.

    70 years later the mission statement of Revenue Canada includes the use of the word “fairness” even though no recommended legislation was ever used.
    I even had the opportunity to ask a Tax Court judge in Vancouver ,where I could get fairness if not in his court? His answer was I would have to make an appeal to the Minister.

    Cheers, Erik

    Like

  2. the provincial govts are corrupt taking orders from big corporations this applies to the federal govt also on every subject weather it be logging-oil and gas-mining-you name it—we the people need to get controll of the govt—-typical situation as i see it—all govts in north america have gotten into bed with big pharma—-everyone gets a jab-times 2 plus a booster at 130 buck a shot plus more boosters down the road as more c19 varients arrive and big pharma will donate to election bank accounts–crooked and corrupt-i would stake my life on that issue–mark meiers-charlie lk bc

    Liked by 2 people

  3. All government wants with global warming and climate change is another vehicle to tax people, while doing nothing.

    Government is doing nothing because doing something will offend people and corporations can we can’t have that can we.

    Today’s politcal philosophy of all major politcal parties in Canada is simply tax the people as much as you can and lavish the money on politcal friends and insiders.

    Nothing is done, nothing is accomplished and the country burns.

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  4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03821-8

    “The need to forgo future production means country producers, fossil energy companies and their investors need to seriously reassess their production outlooks. This is particularly true for countries that are fiscally reliant on fossil fuels, to allow for a managed diversification of their economies. Many regions are facing peak production now or over the next decade, and the development of new low-carbon sectors of their economies that will provide employment and revenues will therefore be key.”

    “For oil, Canada has much higher unextractable estimates than in other regions, at 83%. This includes 84% of the 49 billion barrels (Gb) of Canadian oil sands we estimate as proven reserves.”

    “Regional fossil methane gas production is a more complex story owing to its use to meet demand growth in emerging markets, and as an alternative to coal use in the industrial sector, notably in China and ODA (Fig. 2b). Production in the USA peaks in 2020 and sees rapid decline through 2050, with an annual derived decline rate of 8.1%. This mirrors a rapid decline in the domestic market, with complete phase out of use in the power sector by 2040. In addition, the high share of unconventional gas in the production mix exhibits faster decline than for other major producers. This has important implications for US liquefied fossil methane gas exports, with prospects of low utilization rates of infrastructure, and limited prospect for future additional liquefaction capacity.”

    Subsidizing fossil fuel production in light of clear evidence production must be curtailed immediately or we lose the climate change battle is more than a contortion of logic. At best, it is total incompetence. At worst it is evil madness.

    Trudeau and Horgan’s actions likely fall somewhere along the continuum.

    Like

  5. subsidizing fossil fuel corporations needs to end, like really end. the money can then be used for a real problem in this province, homelessness and underhousing.

    we might also want to use the money to expand medical, healthcare universities, schools. as we have seen, we do need more people in the field and more hospital beds.

    So Horgan and Trudeau need to get their act together, as do voters. It has always “bothered” me that governments subsidize oil/gas/forestry corporations but not people living below the poverty line or those who simply can’t afford to live due to their pensions having become too small to pay for rent and food or kids with better fully paid for health care, i.e. dentists, prescriptions, etc. What makes those corporations more important than children? children are our future, corporations just come and go.

    Then the product, oil/gas is exported and we in Canada are left to pay a bomb at the pumps. We simply ought to stop sending the tar out of the country and keep it here and use it and that is all. In the long run it will save money and the tar won’t be all over the world. It will just be used by us and as time and science improve technology, we will convert to other types of fuel, including the sun, which won’t be asking for subsidizes. ITS FREE.

    We have building codes for everything in this country. How about a new item: all new buildings must have solar heating in them. Even if its only useable for part of the year, its better than nothing and its a start.

    Liked by 1 person

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