The most important statement in the recently released IPCC Report from Working Group III on mitigation is the affirmation that disastrous effects of global warming can still be avoided.
In practical terms avoidance of disastrous climate change requires international agreement on a price for carbon. The price must reflect the emerging scarcity of disposal space for carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.
With a price on carbon, fossil fuels will lose their competitive edge over renewable sources of energy. Canada and certain other countries will find that dependence on fossil fuels for energy cannot be sustained.
There is another consequence for Canada in the displacement of fossil fuels as a source of energy. In future Canada’s fossil fuel resource industry will progressively contribute less and less to our economy.
Without investment in renewable energy Canada will no longer be able to claim that it is an energy super power. Canada must find a way to encourage the development of renewable energy. That need not be a problem. Certain fiscal measures have encouraged the exploitation of fossil fuels: subsidies, resource allowances that reduce taxes on profits from the extraction of fossil fuels and government grants to the industry for research. Those measures should be terminated quickly, and the savings re-allocated to the renewable industry.
The experts who subscribed to the report urged “policy makers to take a number of significant actions in line with the science of the IPCC, including setting a timeline for phasing out greenhouse gas emissions before the end of the century, designing a credible strategy to transform the energy system, and creating a plan to manage reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal.”
Creating a plan to manage reliance on fossil fuels means that countries such as Canada cannot continue to dump, i.e. export, North American coal to other countries. International trade in fossil fuels must be phased out. Investments that support this trade must be cancelled, such as the proposed expansion of Vancouver’s port to handle the vast quantities of coal and oil for further transported to Pacific Rim countries.
The writing is on the wall!