Friends of Science Calgary

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Futile Folly: Canada’s Climate Policy Goals in the Global Context

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2019

Robert Lyman is an Ottawa energy policy consultant. He was formerly a public servant for 27 years and prior to that, a diplomat for 10 years.


“…extraordinarily expensive and dangerous political grandstanding…. Canadians deserve better.”

All major political parties in Canada publicly accept the thesis that humans are causing potentially catastrophic global warming and that Canada must “take action” to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, even if that imposes large costs on the Canadian economy. They implicitly accept the claims of proven science, low costs of mitigation and high environmental benefits.

LINK to full report: Futile Folly FINAL

This paper challenges one of those claims; that is, that emissions reductions by Canada will have a beneficial effect on global emissions trends or, assuming one accepts the thesis that humans are the primary influence on climate, global temperatures.


With verifiable facts and data, it demonstrates that:


  • Global greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, not declining.
  • The source of those increases is primarily the economic growth occurring in the developing countries.
  • The growth of emissions in the developing countries far exceeds the reduction in emissions in the OECD countries.
  • That growth is likely to continue.
  • Many, if not most, developing countries will not honour their commitments at COP21, the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in 2015, to reduce emissions; these commitments were political, not legal.
  • The developing country commitments were partly contingent on massive funding by the OECD countries, which will not be provided.
  • Canadian emissions constitute a tiny percentage of global emissions; and
  • The emissions reductions that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims are necessary to avoid calamity are so large as to be impossible to meet in political, economic and technological terms.


In short, the policies now being followed by federal and provincial governments in Canada amount to extraordinarily expensive and dangerous political grandstanding that will have no offsetting global environmental benefit.



  1. So basically, your position is like that of a small child who urinates in the pool because they believe that that is what the big kids are doing.

    • No, the FOS “position” is that Canada is more like a small child piddling into the ocean and sanctimoniously grandstanding as an eco-saviour while the big kids empty 30 inch drain pipes into it.

      • Of the top 10 emitters of CO2 in the world, Canada is number #1 per capita. Each individual Canadian emits 3 times the global average. We might be the one with the 30 in drain pipe.

        • “Per capita” emissions are a physically meaningless measure. According to alarmist orthodoxy, total atmospheric CO2 concentration is the global climate control knob. “The globe” doesn’t know or care how many people contribute.

          The per capita measure is a political construct. It’s just another way of guilting developed nations and letting populous heavy emitters like China off the hook, giving them licence to continue growing emissions. China’s growth in emissions have swamped total emissions of ‘guilted’ small emitters like Canada. It’s why global emissions continue to rise.

          Canada could reduce its per capita emissions by adopting a favorite leftist policy fad – open borders. Multiplying our population ten-fold with an influx of 3rd world poor (and wrecking the economy) would get that per capita number way down. But would atmospheric CO2 concentration go down with it? Nope.

        • fosadmin

          May 9, 2019 at 3:08 pm

          Jack Dale, our facebook team have unblocked you as requested. Go forth and comment.

  2. Thank-you Robert Lyman, for this article. If i read you right what you are saying is that we can’t afford to get stuck only fighting (or political grandstanding) over what canada is going to do to reduce Co2 and in so doing miss the bigger picture which is that if we don’t actually put our money where our mouth is an GIVE money and support to developing countries (which of course would also entail not exploiting their labour for all the consumer crap and food we take from them, and would also mean putting sanctions on multinational corporations that use covert policing and military means to protect their natural and human resources in said countries…) This is such a big ball of wax. I’ve been fighting for these things ever since i learned of them in the aftermath of the murder of Allende in Chile (1973). Q: HOW to grow the sphere of human action on this at steeply exponential rates?!!!

  3. Even if all Canadians were expelled to the moon. It would not make a difference to the GHG emission growth. Work and live responsibly but don’t force your ideas on others and in the meantime kill our kid’s opportunities because of your grandstanding

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