Our colleague, Michael Brothers, wrote this letter commenting on Alberta’s climate change policies to a Toronto newspaper. It hasn’t been published. Given the importance of the issues raised the letter should be in the public domain. Please circulate as widely as possible.
I am, I must admit, a numbers person. If I am advised that there is a serious problem such as is happening with runaway climate change, I would like to know in concrete terms, just how much we all need to do to tackle the problem.
Climate scientists tell us that if we are to even have even a chance of slowing the rate of change globally between now and 2050, we can release no more than 240 Gigatons of Carbon ( 880 Gt of Carbon Dioxide). This 240 GtC is then the world’s carbon budget.
Doing the math, it is clear Canada’s share of the global climate Carbon Budget, based on GDP and population, between now and 2050, is around 3 Gt Carbon ( 11 Gt of Carbon Dioxide ). This budget will require Canada to release no more than around 300 Megatons of Carbon Dioxide per year for the next 35 years. Canada is currently releasing over 700 Megatons of Carbon Dioxide annually, so we have a way to go.
Knowing what our target must be demonstrates the absurdity of some policy statements. Rachel Notley’s declaration that Tar Sands emissions must be capped at no more than 100 Megatons of Carbon Dioxide annually is effectively saying that a few, mostly foreign owned, oil companies should be allowed to use up one third of Canada’s total carbon budget. Does Premier Notley think that will sit well with the Canadians across the country who are re-insulating their houses, giving up airline travel and moving to electric cars?
What does she think Alberta’s Carbon Budget is?
For the record, I wrote to all the Federal Government parties during the recent election and asked them what they believed Canada’s Carbon budget should be. None of them, not even the Green Party, would give any estimates, or even say whether they agreed or disagreed with my math.
Until we identify clear numbers and set ourselves some understandable targets, most of what is said by both the politicians, and the media, can be considered as just more, wasted, hot air.
(Reprinted with permission)
4RG has often commented on the difficulty in getting Canadians to accept reductions in GHG emissions. We have linked some of these blogs that contain our insights on Alberta and Climate Change to Michael’s letter.