Crawl Across the Ocean

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Kyoto Plans

The Liberals have released their very Liberal plan for meeting Canada's Kyoto targets.

As far as I can tell, it follows what is beginning to seem like the Liberal party blueprint:

1. Identify problem
2. Announce intention to create plan to address this problem
3. (later) Announce intention to create plan to address this problem
4. Announce plan to allocate money to solve problem.
5. Allocate money to solve problem
6. Announce plan to solve problem. Plan will contain little or no regulatory rules or financial mechanisms to achieve goal but will instead create a [insert fuzzy buzzword here] fund which will be responsible for distributing allocated funds to various recipients who are theoretically capable of using said funds to take action to solve problem. Also, plan should extend over numerous years but be presented with a single dollar figure in order to sound more immediate and impressive.
7. Announce each allocation of said funding as if it was new money being devoted to solving the problem.

Now, you'd think that given recent history they may want to shy away from the "create fund / disperse money from fund" approach to solving problems, but apparently not.

Of course I am being pretty unfair, the plan does contain a modest expansion of the Clean/Wind Power Production Initiative (which creates a financial incentive for renewable power development) as well as the 'negotiated' deal with the automakers who have 'volunteered' to reduce their emission by 25% and it does (plan to) impose some (likely inadequate) regulatory requirements on large emitters to cut back their emissions as well.

Perhaps people just focus on the funds which are created because it is these which contain the big price tag in terms of government spending. Still, I remain skeptical about the efficiency and transparency of the central funding approach and would prefer to see something along the lines of a carbon tax which would allow people to make their own decisions about where to cut back without having to go through a bureaucratic process of 'selling' emission reductions to the government.

Overall, my initial reaction was neutral/slightly negative, mainly due to the excess of bureaucracy and shortage of market-based solutions, but in the course of writing this post and thinking about the problem a bit more, it's probably improved to neutral/slightly positive. They could do a lot worse.

Speaking of which, I criticize the Liberal plan, but that doesn't mean I was too impressed with the NDP plan or with the Conservative approach of pretending the scientists are all wrong - although that may be changing(!)

And just so you don't think I only criticize without offering any ideas of my own, I wrote about this topic in more depth (including my recommended Kyoto plan) here.

As an aside, Annex 4 of the report makes for a good (very high level) summary of the evolution of climate change science over the last 15 years or so.

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