Climate Change Forum – Questions and Answers

Question: The BC Carbon Tax is only on the combustion of fossil fuels:  livestock is a major emitter of GHG – so why isn’t the livestock business taxed? A Partial answer:  Environmentalists are aware of this issue but for the most part have not yet identified cattle ranching as a necessary target. The livestock industry …

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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The recent IPCC Assessment Report concluded as a “virtual certainty” that Greenhouse Gases were the principal cause of climate change.

In a previous commentary we anticipated the response of denialists. We observed that:

  • cautious language in the Report would lessen its impact on public opinion;
  • the use of the qualifier “virtual” – after all these years of study some lay persons might expect a direct statement that either GHG are a cause or they are not!
  • climate models projected an increase in the world average temperature as a consequence of increased GHG emissions. Denialists point to a pause in global warming over fifteen years while emissions have increased.

To avoid interminable discussion over the significance of “virtual”, 4RG has a different approach.   Yes, until new observations are made and further studies carried out there is a “doubt”.   But the world must not wait until every last “doubt” is resolved.

 “The Science is very clear and the debate is over. Climate change is happening now, it’s getting worse and humans have caused the majority of it,” said Christian Holz, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada. “Climate scientists have done their job – again – in making this clear beyond any reasonable doubt and now the issue is in the hands of societies and their leaders to fix.”

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Keystone and our image in the US!

Screen capture ForestEthics This image of Canada is far from flattering.  It headed an article in Treehugger.com that reviewed the status of the Keystone protests in the US. Stopping Keystone XL may be seen as a minor skirmish when compared with the significant battles that still must be fought to limit global warming.  Some environmentalists have criticized the …

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A carbon tax is the answer!

Stephane Dion

At 4RG’s Guelph Climate Change Forum Stephane Dion laid it on the line:  the world needs to price carbon if there is to be a chance of reducing GHG emissions from fossil fuels. One effective way for a country to do that is by introducing a carbon tax.

Dion considers that this step might well be taken at the next significant Climate Conference: Paris, 2015.  Yet this requires leadership, and Dion could not say which international leader or which country would provide that leadership.

Dion referred to the experience of several Provinces in Canada that have introduced a carbon tax in one form or another:  BC, Alberta and Quebec.

BC is the Canadian poster child for a carbon tax.  A few days before Dion’s remarks, the Secretary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (0ECD) had this to say about the BC experiment:

“It is important to note that not all governments have shied away from explicit carbon taxes. Since Sweden introduced its carbon tax in 1991, an additional nine OECD countries have followed suit. We have learned a lot from these experiences on how to introduce carbon taxes. For example, introducing the taxes incrementally over time can allow households and businesses to make smooth, efficient adjustments. The implementation of British Columbia’s carbon tax is as near as we have to a textbook case, with wide coverage across sectors and a steady increase in the rate, from CAD 5 to CAD 30 per tonne over a period of five years.”

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The potential for wind power in Canada’s North

Representatives attending the Energy and Mines Ministers Conference in Whitehorse toured a wind farm at the Rio Tinto Diavik Diamond Mine, North West Territories.  This wind farm is the world’s most Northern large-scale wind-diesel hybrid power facility. This three turbine installation has reduced the Mine’s consumption of expensive diesel fuel by approximately five million litres per annum and GreenHouse gases (GHG) emissions by 6%. (See the Company’s video of this installation.)

This Diavik tour helped the Conference appreciate how wind power can reduce GHG emissions from mine sites. Perhaps the tour was the inspiration for a brief ten word reference to renewable energy in the lengthy Conference Final Press Release.  The press release also stated that the Ministers would continue to discuss many topics, of which investing in renewable energy was one.

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