Ross McKitrick: The 2030 emissions plan: Canada’s gift to Putin
The sad reality is that the federal government does not care what its climate plans will cost people
You might have thought the Russo-Ukrainian War would have convinced the Trudeau government to hit pause on its climate-change plans. Europeans are suddenly desperate to find other sources of energy so they can scale back imports from Russia. We can’t help them, unfortunately, because of our long embrace of the don’t-build-anything-anywhere school of economic development. But the United States can, using its liquified natural gas (LNG) export infrastructure. That means the U.S. must import more to make up for what it diverts out of its domestic market. Where will they look? To us, among other places. That’s what we used to call an opportunity.
Not anymore. Instead, Ottawa has just released a 271-page Emission Reduction Plan (ERP) that calls on our oil and gas sector to cut emissions by 31 per cent below 2005 levels in the next eight years, which is 42 per cent below current levels. It also wants the sector to get to “net-zero” by 2050. Given the current technological limits of carbon capture and other buzzwords, that means either ceasing operations altogether or using production methods that will price producers out of the world market — thus leaving a clear field for Russia, among others, to expand its dominance in world energy markets in the years ahead. Global emissions won’t decline mind you; people will just get their energy from dictators while democracies such as Canada exit the market.
The sad reality is that the federal government does not care what its climate plans will cost people. After all, there’s a climate emergency to be addressed — it says so right there on page 14: “With deadly heat waves and devastating wildfires and flooding, the cost and impact of inaction on Canadians’ lives and livelihoods is far too high.” Does that mean the ERP will stop these things from happening? No, of course not, this is just more climate sophistry. The ERP will not affect the incidence of extreme weather.
But the sophistry runs even deeper: are they saying we are experiencing more heat waves, fires and floods due to climate change? They skate past that question without answering it, so let’s see what the experts say. The 2019 federal science report on climate change noted (p. 34) that robust statistical assessment of trends in heat waves is “challenging” and that in Canada there’s only medium confidence that more places have experienced an increase in the number of heat waves than a decrease. Meanwhile, the 2017 U.S. National Climate Assessment reported (pp. 190-91) that heat wave magnitudes were considerably higher in the 1930s, while over the past century high temperatures experienced a net decline in almost all regions east of the Rocky Mountains.