TCS Daily

Oh Canada, Oh Kyoto

By Tim Ball - February 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Canada's past Prime Minister Jean Chretien adopted the Kyoto treaty without adequately considering the science or the costs. Now the costs are coming home -- last week his successor Paul Martin brought in a budget with $6 billion earmarked for Kyoto with no implementation plan.

Environment Canada already has admitted to some of the costs to date, but hardly all. It's web site asserts: "The Government of Canada's commitment to climate change action since Budget 2000 totals $3.7 billion. This is in addition to a number of other measures that are designed to complement our actions on climate change."

Part of the price tag for the "other measures" they allude to is the $6 billion, but it will be much higher considering the follow-on policy statement from the Liberal government:

        "The achievement of our climate change objectives will become part of 
        the way the Government of Canada does business. Our investments 
        in infrastructure, in technology, in science, and in regional development 
        will all be considered in terms of their impact on reaching our climate 
        change targets."

Despite expenditures thus far, Canadian emissions of carbon dioxide -- the most abundant of greenhouse gases -- have risen some 30 percent since 1997, when the Kyoto protocol was first agreed upon. Their voluntary plan has proven so ineffective that green pressure groups now demand mandatory energy rationing. The government now plans to spend another $1.4 billion buying carbon credits.

Eventually, the bill according to some estimates could reach into the tens and even hundreds of billions of dollars. And for what purpose?

The Chretien and Martin governments' pervasive and consuming commitment to dealing with warming comes despite the fact that it is clearly more logical to prepare for cooling. It's a matter of simple geography. Canada is at the northern fringes of agriculture on the continent. If it warms we simply adopt techniques practiced in the northern United States. If Canada cools, though, we are in trouble since nobody is farming north of us. Cold summers in 1992 and 2004, when harvests were almost completely lost in the West, illustrate the real threat of cooling.

Geographic common sense isn't the only casualty in Canada from the Kyoto fiasco. Environment Canada has failed to achieve targets for reductions in pollutants that have real health effects, in large measure because two thirds of all new spending on the environment in the last budget went to climate change.

Problems with the Kyoto Protocol are not something that have blindsided the Canadian government. The inadequacy of the science at the heart of the protocol, as well as the real costs to the economy, have been well-documented by many Canadian scientists and economists. Prime Ministers Chretien and Martin simply ignored us entirely.

Guelph University economics and statistics professor Ross McKitrick has been especially active. He co-authored the award-winning book, Taken by Storm, with University of Western Ontario applied mathematics professor Chris Essex on the lack of evidence for human induced global warming.

And with engineer and entrepreneur Stephen McIntyre, McKitrick successfully debunked the "hockey stick" study by University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann that supposedly proved human fossil fuel use in the last century was the source of unprecedented global warming. Mann's hockey stick graph -- so-called for depicting a stable "shaft" for global temperatures over the last thousand years except for a rising "blade" over the last 100 years -- purports to show the human signal. Environment Canada still thinks so highly of Mann that it continues to highlight his conclusions on its web page:

· "The 1980s and 1990s are the warmest decades on record, with 1998 the warmest year."
· "The 10 warmest years in global meteorological history have all occurred in the past 15 years."
· "The 20th Century has been the warmest globally in the past 1000 years."

All of these assertions were shown by McKitrick and McIntyre to be wrong. Subsequent studies have further discredited Mann's work.

Perhaps the Canadian government just remains in thrall to the exhortations by Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations. In a commencement address to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Annan confidently assured his audience that, despite the criticisms of the skeptics, the science of climate change is well founded. "Some of (the) effects (of climate change) are by now inevitable and, indeed, we may already be seeing -- in the increased incidence of drought, floods and extreme weather events that many regions are experiencing -- some of the devastation that lies ahead," he asserted. "Imagine melting polar icecaps and rising sea levels threatening beloved and highly developed coastal areas such as Cape Cod with erosion and storm surges. ... Imagine a warmer and wetter world in which infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever spread more easily."

But the scientific reports that go into the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments don't support such claims. Annan, though, is apparently ignorant or indifferent to the difference between the IPCC's political Executive Summaries and the scientific reports.

So Canadian government policies and billions of dollars are being wasted by unsubstantiated claims of the IPCC Executive Summary. Following Kyoto leaves Canada's economy in the cold. Canadians can only hope it doesn't do the same to its weather.



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