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Martin Laplante

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Fri, 24 Nov 2006

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators, Relative to intensity

The second annual report on Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators came out recently and confirms, no surprise here, that Canada is far above its Kyoto targets.

As you can see in one if its charts, Greenhouse gas emissions relative to Gross Domestic Product is down. This is very important when it come to the proposed "intensity-based targets" in the Clean Air Act. If we use targets that are relative to intensity, we can easily reach them with business as usual. We've already achieved 6% below 1990 levels. The problem is that we are putting a lot more GHGs into the air than before, when our planet demands that we put less

Alberta is the culprit

The more interesting chart is one that the government has not drawn but I have, using their data. How is each province doing? The good news is that ever since the major government programs came out a few years ago, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces have turned the corner. Their Greenhouse Gas emissions are now going down, not up. The data is missing for other provinces, but there are other sources.

For more information on short-term GHG trends by province, see the recently-released National Inventory Report - Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada, 1990-2004, and Trends in Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada, 1990-2004 and this page in particular.

The big problem is Alberta, and other provinces can not compensate for Alberta. Its primary energy consumption is up by a whopping 150% since 1980. Per unit of GDP, one job in Alberta costs 5 times more in terms of greenhouse gases than a job elsewhere in Canada. Alberta emits more than Ontario. It is a tragedy that Alberta is undoing all of the good work done by the people of all of the other provinces. Behind all of this, directly and indirectly, is the tar sands. It is the elephant in the room. All we need is a big-game hunter.



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