Saturday, 6 December 2008

Canada and US: how to get to low-carbon

Alberta tarsands photo: Bryan Farrell Just announced in Poznan -- Canada could meet the target of 25% emissions cuts by 2020, says a new joint study Deep Reductions, Strong Growth (disponible en francais: Réductions marquées, croissance solide) by the Suzuki Foundation, Pembina Institute and Mark Jaccard (lead researcher of the NRTEE). A carbon tax of $50/tonne would start after the recession in 2010, rising over a decade to $200 -- combined with conservation, efficiency and major reinvestment of the resulting carbon fund in green jobs. See the interchurch KairosCanada letter asking the PM to act.

In the US, Worldwatch released Low-Carbon Energy: A Roadmap. It shows 40% cuts by 2030 are possible in the USA: by means of housing retrofits, and major investment in cogeneration (CHP), renewable energy, wind power, smart grids, and electric vehicles. Its assessment of renewables is more optimistic than Pat Murphy's (see below) but like the Canadian plan urges deep cuts in consumption. The outgoing Bush administration's dereg for "dirty coal" goes in precisely the wrong direction.

These are the standards against which US and Canadian governments should be judged. The targets are similar to those recently moved in the European parliament but opposed by France and Poland. Similar foot-dragging by the US and Canada makes COP-14 negotiation extremely difficult. Youth delegates from many nations have been scathing about the "clowning around" by their governments (from their 4 Dec 08 blog).

Both reports urge strong political leadership. Worldwatch says, "The only chance of slowing the buildup of CO2 concentrations soon enough to avoid catastrophic climate change that could take centuries to reverse is to transform the energy economies of industrial and developing countries almost simultaneously." Real commitments by US, Canada and EU are needed to bring China, India, and Brazil into the UNFCCC framework. See Tickell's Kyoto2.

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