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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. Jack Dale

    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.

    • jr2025

      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.

      • Jack Dale

        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.

        • jr2025

          “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.

          • Julie Hunter

            Agreed, but about 64% of the population cannot digest that level of mathematical abstraction. (I’m not being sarcastic)

          • Jack Dale

            How about using emissions intensity?

        • fosadmin

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

          • Jack Dale

            I am still blocked.

          • Jack Dale

            Still blocked.

          • Jack Dale

            Still blocked on FB.

          • Jack Dale

            Now my posts no longer appear in the blog site. Michelle Stirling told me that FOS was all about open debate and free speech.

          • Jack Dale

            Nope – still blocked.

          • Jack Dale

            Still not able to post to FB

        • Bob Daye

          You cannot compare per capita as Canada is one of the most sparsely populated northern countries in the world. A very unfair and misleading statement. You would rather freeze in the dark?
          Canada needs to do nothing and can do nothing about naturally occurring climate change.
          This farce called man made climate change needs to be reigned in.
          Next they will be saying we must stop eating meat.
          Oh look they already are…..

    • Robert Lyman

      Jack Dale, do you not understand the concept of costs and benefits? The costs to Canada of reducing emissions to the level recommended by the IPCC would be immense – complete elimination of our energy intensive resource industries and most of our energy-intensive manufacturing, tripling or quadrupling of household electricity costs, and huge increases in transportation costs. The political battles alone might cost us a country. The benefits at the global level, as the developing countries are the major emitters and have no intention of reducing their emissions enough to meet the IPCC goal are nil. Fortunately, the whole scientific artifice on which the IPCC position is based is false, so their claims of human-caused calamities can be ignored. Even if they were right, however, the only logical response would be to spend on adapting to climate changes, not wasting one cent of emissions reduction. Get it?

  2. Julie Hunter

    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. Paul

    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

  4. David Malmo-Levine

    There is no downside from switching massive subsidies to non renewable energy over to renewable energy – more jobs, cleaner environment, cellulosic ethanol spill would evaporate & also act as a carbon sink, reversing climate destabilization. There would be no more oil wars, concentrations of economic wealth that threatens democracy and desert regions could be reclaimed – hemp is an excellent fuel crop and grows in sand. But oil companies rule the world and would rather suffer endless forest fires and floods and oil wars, oil spills, climate destabilization etc etc rather than release their grip on the global energy economy.

  5. bob`graham

    jack is a charter member of the IPCC useful idiots group, and will never be convinced the global climate is more complex than Bill Nyes “greenhouse in a bottle” proof, despite evidence to the contrary.
    I’d suggest he peruse the expert testimony given at the recent San Francisco trial where the city was suiing large oil for causing climate change (they lost, justifiably).
    this is the best current tutorial available on climate’s concerns, and the role of man in it..
    it’s overview was: 1 – climate is always changing, and current changes are common in the geologic record. 2- human influences are maybe 1% of the natural effects level. 3 – it’s not possible to tell how much of recent warming can be attributed to man; 4 – there have been no detrimental changes observed in recent climate variables, and todays’ projections of future climate are highly uncertain.
    that’s the opinion of 3 of the best climate scientists currently working. Maybe we should listen to them (Jack),rather than insisting SOMETIHING MUST BE DONE! Needless to say, the city lost, deservedly.

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