Crawl Across the Ocean

Friday, February 16, 2007

What's the Deal with Kyoto?

Via Robert, Bill Doskoch has an excellent summary of the Kyoto Accord.


  • "Other nations, such as the United States and Britain, sent financially savvy negotiators. Canada sent aid and environmental experts. The terms reflect that imbalance.
    I think that statement sums up the problem with Canada's original commitment. And it didn't stop at the conference. Opinions on the validity of anthropogenic global warming are restricted to scientists that are the experts in that field but we are expected to accept the financial consequences as predicted by environmentalist groups like Pembina or others that are not peer reviewed experts in the field.
    If one uses CO2 emissions per capita as a measure of our burden of responsibility then why aren't we allowed to include our existing carbon sink capabilities(our huge forests)on a per capita basis as well. What are our actual net CO2 emissions in this country per capita per square mile related to our average daily temperatures below say 20C

    By Anonymous doug newton, at 11:16 AM  

  • "we are expected to accept the financial consequences as predicted by environmentalist groups like Pembina or others that are not peer reviewed experts in the field."

    We are? As I understand it, the figures most often used are those from the Stern report, where Stern was head of the Government Economics Service. The figures I see next most often are the chicken little totals put out by right wing think tanks and business groups who have a track record of overestimating the cost to the economy of every regulatory measure ever imposed in the history of man, going back at least as far as their battle to prevent cities from imposing public trash collection. Personally, I put most stock in the concerns of insurance companies. Admittedly, they have a vested interest, but still, predicting the costs of bad things is their business - if they do that wrong, they go bankrupt (depending on which side they err on).


    I'm skeptical of the argument that, simply because much of our country happens to be an uninhabitable wilderness, Canadians should be allowed to have much higher emissions per capita than other nations.

    A stronger case could be made for including the net change in forest cover/density but I doubt that this would be a big benefit to us - especially with the pine beetle munching it's way through our forests.

    As for temperature being a factor, I'd need to see some analysis of which temperature ranges corresponds with highest energy use. I know that Ontario hits peak electricity usage in the summer, not winter for example. So perhaps it is the rest of the world which deserves a break for putting up with higher temperatures than we have to or are willing to.

    The strongest cases that Canada has so far failed to make were both mentioned in Doskoch's piece: 1) an argument that the standards should be set on a per capita basis, rather than a national basis, or that at least immigration should be taken into account. A country's generosity in opening its borders to people from other places shouldn't result in the existing citizens being penalized. 2) The argument that the standards should be tied more to final demand to the benefit of energy exporters (especially exporters of clean energy) and to the detriment of energy importers. e.g. Should Canada be responsible for all of the emissions of the tar sands if the tar sands are exporting all their oil to the U.S.? And shouldn't we get credit for exporting hydro power to the U.S. so they don't have to build more coal plants?

    Anyway, countries could bicker for decades over the details and probably will, the point is that Canada should take action to reduce it's emissions, regardless of what the fine print of the treaty says. The fine print is relevant, but a secondary issue.

    By Blogger Declan, at 12:14 PM  

  • I agree with you on most points including the need to reduce our emissions but we have just voted to meet our Kyoto commitments and I think that was a mistake.
    Most people can survive the heat of the summer but not the cold of the winter so it was temperatures below 20C that I suggested as another relevant consideration - maybe 10C would be better.
    From what I've read the Stern Report didn't do that well in peer review but I am not an economist so I will concede that one too.

    By Anonymous doug newton, at 2:30 PM  

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