A quick review of Canada’s submission to the UNFCC
Contributed by Rob Pearce ©2016
Have you ever seen the buzzword or jargon generating games, where various phrases, nouns, verbs etc are combined to make serious sounding yet obscure statements? Welcome to Canada’s latest contribution to the GHG reduction commitment stampede.
Scheduled to coincide with the termination of the COP22 conference in Marrakesh, the Federal Government just released its fantasy document submitted to the UNFCCC under the Paris Agreement: Canada’s Mid-Century Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Development Strategy. Oddly, even now several days after the document was released, it does not appear to be available on Environment Canada’s website, but rather only on the UNFCC website.
To start us off, it’s both ironic and sad that one of the very beautiful photos in the beginning of the document (page 3) is Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks, in Banff National Park. For background information, the Valley is a glacial valley, with ten peaks over ten thousand feet in elevation, and is a spectacular and popular destination. It has also appeared on two issues of our $20 bill, again ironically as this document proposes massive destruction of Canadian wealth disguised as “green development”. It is ironic because this document includes “long-term” in its title, yet cannot come close to the long term found in this iconic place. Not long ago, the overwhelming power of continental and alpine glaciation carved it out of hundreds of millions of years of sedimentary rock deposits, the formations themselves recording and representing the truly long term, with corresponding immense variations in climate, geography and ocean/atmospheric composition, of course completely unaffected by humans.
The government submission (and I use that phrasing very deliberately) is both important and meaningless at the same time, being a description of a possible (actually not in reality) pathway to achieving Canada’s stated goal of reducing GHG emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050, or just 34 years from now. An excellent description of the challenges and downsides of the “80 by 50” concept is provided in a report by Robert Bryce at the Manhattan Institute: https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/your-land-look-at-80-by-50-9346.html.
The Canadian government submission is about a 90-page document, making a detailed study of it a rather daunting task to tackle in a short time. And life is too short, particularly since pretty much every paragraph (possibly every sentence) contains various combinations of outright falsehoods, misconceptions, exaggerations or naïve hopes. Fortunately, (though sadly) it is highly repetitive (and tiresome) in terms of both jargon and the “big lies”, which is the approach I have taken to categorizing its many shortcomings.
Selected Jargon Count (from the pdf file)
Pollutants or pollution 32
Warm or warming (and warmers!) 35
Mitigate or mitigation 90
Clean or cleaner 149
Carbon or Decarbonization 295
Emission or emissions 458
Jobs, Employment 27
The Big Lies
Fortunately, the document itself makes it easier to categorize and summarize its Big Lies, by neatly using them as section headers within the Executive Summary and also throughout the document. Examples include:
– Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to avoid the increasing threat presented by climate change.
– Net emissions falling by 80% in 2050…is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 2C to 1.5C goal.
– Today’s technologies and knowledge can significantly reduce emissions,…
– A cleaner more innovative economy that reduces emissions and protects the environment, while creating well-paying jobs and promoting robust economic growth.
– Regional cooperation will be key to our success.
So let’s have a quick discussion on each of these five Big Lies, which form the foundation of the call to support actions which will ruin Canada’s economy, disproportionately hurt the poor and have no measurable effect on the world’s climate. Please note that this article is not intended as a thorough debunking of the submission, just a simple discussion of why it’s so ridiculous and dangerous at the same time. There are many, very thorough critiques of each of the Big Lies in the submission, and I urge readers to follow up with these as they see fit.
Big Lie #1: Carbon dioxide is a pollutant and is causing global warming
Carbon dioxide is a foundation of all life on Earth as a vital part of the food chain. The Earth is currently at long term historically low levels of CO2 and is now benefitting from the minor rise now taking place. The Earth is greener and more agriculturally productive, benefitting the environment and humankind. The globe has been warming naturally in fits and starts since coming out of the last ice age, so any warming is largely a natural part of that cycle. Warming concerns are driven by simplistic climate models which have demonstrably failed badly in their predictions of global warming, sea level rise and other harbingers of doom.
Big Lie #2: Forcing Canada’s emissions down by 80% will help the globe
Canada’s emissions of CO2 are approximately 1.6% of global emissions. Even eliminating ALL our emissions will have no measurable effect, except to destroy our country. This is simply because CO2 is not a pollutant – and because other countries continue to raise their emissions at far higher rates than we are cutting ours. See also Big Lie #5. A very recent example is China alone stating it will raise coal-fired generating capacity by 200 gigawatts, or more than Canada’s entire generating capacity, over the next five years.
Big Lie #3: Today’s technologies are largely sufficient to eliminate fossil fuels
Today’s technologies are simply incapable of providing the reliable, low cost energy needed to power our modern world and lift billions out of poverty. Windmills and solar panels are inefficient, unreliable and expensive, and they require 100% backup from reliable fossil fuel generation – they survive only because of massive government subsidies and other complex interventions, dragging down the real economy and ordinary people with them. These technologies fail badly by every measure; they should simply not be installed until research and development bring them up to the standard we deserve.
Big Lie #4: We can largely eliminate fossil fuel use while growing the economy
This is perhaps the greatest lie of all, as it tells people they can have it all. It’s the broken windows fallacy taken to an extreme. There are no examples of any modern economy achieving this imaginary state; even within Canada, we need only look at the example of Ontario’s disastrous green energy policy train wreck. A few reference articles related to this Big Lie include:
Why renewable energy cannot replace fossil fuels by 2050: A reality check. Robert Lyman. May 2016. https://friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/Renewable-energy-cannot-replace-FF_Lyman.pdf
Green jobs – rhetoric or reality: A brief review of the evidence. Robert Lyman. March 2016. https://friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/Green-Jobs-Rhetoric_Lyman.pdf
Climate crazy Ontario’s no place to grow, but to get the hell out of. Ross McKitrick. May 17, 2016
The economic catastrophe that awaited us under the 2 degrees C target, let alone 1.5 degrees C:
Big Lie #5: We are all cooperating to achieve common goals
It’s abundantly clear that our Canadian Provinces are struggling to cooperate, let alone hundreds of diverse populations around the world – all advancing their own self-interest, as Canada should. Other countries are building coal-fired and gas-fired generation at a breakneck pace, whether to help raise their people out of energy and economic poverty, or simply ensure the stability and reliability of their energy supply in the face of “decarbonization” and nuclear shutdowns. The Paris agreement is a farce, with the only cooperation occurring when deciding where the next obscenely expensive and ineffective climate conferences should be.
In conclusion, please consider the very negative consequences suffered by you and your families, communities and country will be if even a small part of the Canadian submission to the UNFCCC is enacted. And all for no measurable or demonstrable benefit whatsoever.