Conservatives unveil their green plan; I am unimpressed

Ottawa will unveil new climate-change regulations this week that would force new oil sands projects and coal-fired electricity plants to capture and store the bulk of their greenhouse gases rather than spew them into the air…

Canada has set a target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent below 2006 levels by the year 2020. It aims to cut emissions by 60-70 per cent by mid-century.

Baird also elaborated on a previous announcement that requires companies to reduce emissions 18 per cent by 2010 for every unit of production by specifying how the targets will apply to each industry sector, how the offsets and trading systems will work and how credits will be provided to companies that acted early to cut emissions.

The problems with this bill are 1) The Conservatives are still basing their greenhouse gas policies on emissions intensity, which wont reduce the absolute levels of emissions. 2) “Clean” coal is expensive and not particularly clean, at least not by any sensible definition of the word. 3) The Conservatives are hoping the carbon capture and storage will be the magic bullet that will allow Canada to easily meet future, but the technology is still largely unproven and very expensive.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May criticized the capturing techniques as expensive and unproven

“Right now, it’s not cost-effective and there are far more cost-effective ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — improving the efficiency with which we use energy and shifting to other energy sources beyond coal and oil,” she said at a news conference.

The government has admitted that the technology likely won’t be up and running until 2018.

My third complaint problem is the conservatives continual use of 2006 as a baseline from which to measure greenhouse gas reductions. For better or worse the rest of the world has chosen 1990 as the baseline from which to measure greenhouse gas reductions, and the continual use of the 2006 baseline is a blatant attempt at making the meager cuts proposed by the Conservatives appear larger than the actually are.

The almost glacial speed of this plan is completely at odds with the urgency that is required according to the climate scientists.

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