Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2016

Robert Lyman is an energy economist and  formerly a public servant for 27 years and a diplomat for a decade.

In December 2015, at the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Changes in Paris (COP21), the parties reached agreement on the desirability of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous global warming. Subject to ratification by the parties, it will be legally binding. However, it will not legally bind the signatories to specific emission reduction limits either at the global or national levels. It will bind them instead to respect an aspirational goal of holding the increase in the average global temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also will bind them to submit “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDC) to emissions reduction and to update these plans every five years.


The world media has devoted very little attention to the remarkable difference in the commitments outlined in the agreement between the developed and developing countries. Article 2(2) of the agreement provides that:


This Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, in the light of different national circumstances.”


This statement is based on the principle that has emerged from 21 years of climate change discussions that responsibility, both for historical emissions and for reducing emissions now, should be placed on the developed countries as a matter of “climate justice”.  Article 4(7) of the Agreement adds a proviso that makes clear the benefit intended for developing countries:


“The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention …will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”


The major industrializing developing countries, such as China and India, are classed as developing countries and thus exempted from the costs of emissions reductions placed on developed countries like Canada.


This differentiation is reflected in the INDCs that were submitted by China and India before COP21 and in bilateral agreements that they subsequently signed with the Obama Administration in the United States.


China is already the largest emitter of GHGs in the world. In its INDC, it made no commitment to reduce emissions. Rather, it promised to aim at a target of peaking its GHG emissions by 2030 at the latest, and to lower the carbon intensity of its GDP by 60 to 65% below 2005 levels by 2030. It also agreed to increase the share of non-fossil primary energy supply (i.e. nuclear, hydro and other renewables) to around 20% by that time. Different estimates have been published as to the levels of Chinese emissions by 2030. Climate Action Tracker, a private source, projects that China’s emissions will be between 13.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) and 16.9 GtCO2e by 2030. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2030 China’s emissions will be two and a half times those of the United States. Those emissions will continue to grow after 2030.


India is now the third largest GHG emitter, after China and the U.S. In its INDC, India also made no commitment to reduce emissions. Instead, like China, it cast its commitments in terms of lowering the emissions intensity of GDP, in this case by 33% to 35% below 2005 levels by 2030. India also promised to increase its share of non-fossil based power generation to 40% of capacity by 2030. Climate Action Tracker projects that the policies India is adopting will increase emissions to 3.6 GtCO2e in 2020 and 5.4 to 5.5 GtCO2e by 2030. This would mean a doubling of GHG emissions from 2010 levels by 2030. By then, India’s emissions would match or exceed those of the United States.


The countries of Southeast Asia are not far behind, according to a recent Special Report by the International Energy Agency. Russia also indicated that its emissions will continue to grow for at least the next 15 years.


In fact, it is far from clear that even these commitments will be met. Representatives of developing countries, and especially India, have said that their ability and willingness to reduce emissions intensity will depend heavily on the developed countries honouring their promises to build up a Green Climate Fund. The Green Climate Fund, established initially at a level of $100 billion per year, is supposed to rise with time and come from contributions over and above existing foreign aid levels. The citizens of developed countries, already coping with the additional costs of carbon taxes will be asked to pay increased income taxes to pay for the Green Climate Fund.


In the name of “climate justice”, China, India, and other developing countries will increase GHG emissions to 2030 and beyond, increasing the global level, while citizens in developed countries like Canada incur the financial burden. The environmental benefit, if any, which will result from this is unclear.


For how long will the people in the developed countries see justice in that?


Alberta’s First Climate Leadership Plan was Established in 2002

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell

Premier Notley said in her “State of the Province” address on Oct. 19, 2016, that “On few files was our province more poorly served than by elected officials, from this province, who claimed – with a straight face – that there was no need to act decisively or effectively on climate change.”

It seems the Premier is unaware of the 2002 “Albertans and Climate Change: Taking Action” or the 2008 Alberta government report “Moving Forward” [LINK: 8066-albertans-and-climate-change-moving-forward ] that records the many ‘firsts’ and leadership shown by the previous Progressive Conservative administration of Alberta on climate change and pollution reduction.


Though the Premier went on to claim: This failure to attend to the fundamental strategic interests of Alberta is a key reason why we remain landlocked today, despite ten years of promises that the issue was going to be addressed effectively.”

In fact, as reported by Vivian Krause and others like CounterPunch, Alberta has been the target of a nasty smear campaign by numerous foreign-funded activist groups which appear to be acting as proxies for competing oil/gas/resource exporting nations or on behalf of wind and solar commercial interests, as reportedly has occurred with the Sierra Club in the United States.

Indeed, in Canada, in 2005, the Sierra Club gave Alberta an F while giving Ontario a B+


Ontario aggressively began wind and solar development on the advice of environmental groups who claimed that phasing out coal and going to wind and solar would be cheaper and cleaner.  As reported by Terence Corcoran the same day as Premier Notley’s speech (with the Premier touting wind and solar and declaring that coal will be phased out in Alberta) the Kingston solar project provides little power for a lot of costs – some 42 cents per kilowatt hour.

Alberta’s coal-fired power costs about 2 cents per kilowatt hour at the gate.

Wind and solar can never compete with the low cost and reliability of coal, so demarketing of coal through demonizing it is a key strategy in implementing wind and solar, which effectively means the power system relies on the typically more expensive, volatile market-priced, natural gas.



The “Moving Forward” report also documents the many energy efficiency programs that were in place at the time, disputing the Premier’s claim that no such programs had previously been in place in Alberta. These included a furnace rebate program, “Soak up the Savings” – to replace old washer/dryers with more energy efficient models, “Exit to Savings” – to replace multi-residence exit lights with LEDs, OnFarm Energy Efficiency audit, the ME First $30 million municipal efficiency interest-free loan program, Hail a Hybrid for taxi companies, Reduce Idling campaign, Car Heaven – to get old polluting cars off the road, and the adoption of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard for all government buildings, the adoption of “Go Green” national certification of the Building Owners and Management Association (BOMA) for all government buildings.

Failure to address the trade war conducted against Alberta and Canada by foreign-funded “environmental” activists cloaked in green, while ideologically pursuing the adoption of large-scale wind and solar in Alberta, along with rapid coal phase-out, will, in our opinion, lead to DIRE CONSEQUENCES.

Depending on the approvals and development of new natural gas capacity, Alberta could soon see a lack of power capacity as old coal plants close early when the carbon tax makes them unprofitable.  The outcome could be like that of the UK – rolling blackouts, ineffective stop-gap measures, and wide-spread heat-or-eat poverty.

The claim for “Climate Change Action” is often based on the alleged sole authority of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but the Non-governmental Panel on Climate Change reports are equally authoritative on the science, far less politicized and exhibit a thoughtful review of the evidence. Findings include:

  • The “Physical Science” report finds that negative feedbacks in the climate system reduce the  model-derived temperature sensitivity to values an order of magnitude smaller. Earth’s surface temperatures are largely driven by variations in solar activity, which may have contributed as much as 66% of the observed 20th-century warming.
  • The “Biological Impacts” report finds that rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels are causing “no net harm to the global environment or to human health and often finds the opposite: net benefits to plants, including important food crops, and to animals and human health.”

Further, the activists who claim they will grant ‘social license’ for pipelines and LNG processing facilities if we just comply with ‘going green’ (such green-energy policies shown to be a failure in Europe) have historically demonstrated that they just want ‘more’ – no matter how much progress is achieved.  The ‘state of the province’ and the nation is being devastated by these fifth columns.  When will someone in authority address this issue?

cover moving forward ab govt 2008.png

Contributed by Michelle Stirling, Communications Manager of Friends of Science Society.  Stirling worked at Alberta Environment in 2005 when the Sierra Club awarded Alberta an F for failing grade.

SEA-LEVEL RISE William Balgord column: Will the Atlantic threaten Norfolk Naval Base?

By William D. Balgord
Reprinted with permission Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch
The Union of Concerned Scientists, a not-for-profit advocacy group based in Cambridge, Mass., recently issued a report that drew immediate response from news outlets. UCS projects 17 U.S. military facilities, including Norfolk Naval Base, will have to deal with frequent flooding events from rising seas by the year 2050, and suggests the bases may be awash in 2100.
Dire predictions are based on model projections suggesting a future atmospheric temperature rise of 2 degrees or more accompanied by partial melting of the massive glaciers that cover Greenland and Antarctica. But climate models, not yet validated, deserve criticism because of poor correlation between increasing CO2 and a global temperature that has not risen in close conformity with model predictions. Absent global temperature increases, significant melting of either polar icecap would not occur.
Warming oceans contribute to rising sea level, since volume expands as upper ocean layers warm. For several thousand years sea levels have risen at a rate of about 7 inches per century, with a dip during the Little Ice Age. Reports of accelerating sea level rise (SLR) may be attributed to a switch in instrumentation (tidal gauges to satellite measurements).
Shifting weather patterns and changes in ocean-atmospheric circulation such the El Nino/La Nina events in the equatorial Pacific are also responsible for short-lived changes. A five-inch rise projected from historic trends would be entirely manageable for the DOD. The Dutch have battled a rising North Sea for centuries.
UCS’ report does not properly refer to on-shore tide gauge measurements as Relative Sea Level (RSL). RSL reflects average sea level of the nearby open ocean as measured at the shoreline referenced to a permanent stationary structure usually located in a harbor.
Relative Sea Level Rise (RSLR) is phenomenon whereby sea level appears to rise if either or both the ocean rises or the land settles. The latter is called “subsidence.” To determine what contributes to observed changes requires detailed analysis of coastal features aided with satellite altimetry. RSLR determines the increased risk of flooding during spring tides and more dramatically from tidal surges accompanying hurricanes or tsunami.
Norfolk Naval Base is located near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, an embayment encompassing the drowned river valleys of the James, Potomac, and Susquehanna Rivers (and tributaries). It is a prime example of land undergoing subsidence accompanying the relaxation of the forced downward tilt of the North American tectonic plate now returning to its position before the previous glacial age.
Subsidence along the bay’s perimeter is proceeding at a rate of half an inch to as much as two inches per decade. Research at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science also concluded somewhat more than half the RSLR observed from 1976 to 2007 resulted from subsidence.
Increasing sea levels projected by UCS depend on an appreciably accelerated melting of polar ice and thermal expansion of the oceans, not yet observed in the 21st Century.
Consistent departures of actual temperatures from EPA model projections raise further questions and relegate predictions of future ice melt and ocean expansion to the status of speculation.
Many experts had predicted sea ice in the Arctic Ocean would melt completely by 2008. Yet the ice remains in late summer. Although fluctuating somewhat year to year, it does not show indications of disappearing. The Arctic Ocean refreezes each winter.
Sea ice surrounding Antarctica has been expanding for nearly two decades despite earlier predictions to the contrary. It is generally agreed that for melting of landed ice to proceed, contributing to SLR, Arctic sea ice and that ringing Antarctica would need to disappear.
The extent of sea ice, although not affecting sea level directly, is considered a bellwether for potential melting of the icecaps.
Perceived threats posed by rising oceans to U.S. bases in 2050 hinge on climate models that have not been validated. The threats remain speculative. And with CO2 sensitivity revised down one degree Celsius for a doubling of CO2, there is reasonable doubt that warming this century would induce sufficient melting or enough thermal expansion to fulfill USC’ predictions.
Yet subsidence causes problems wherever coastal lands are sinking, whether in Norfolk, New Orleans or Venice, and will proceed independently of any global warming alleged from the combustion of fossil fuels.
The Department of Defense is advised to plan accordingly.
William D. Balgord, Ph.D. (geochemistry) heads Environmental & Resources Technology, Inc. in Ft. Pierce, Fla.
                                                                                             *    *    *
[The article originally appeared in the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch in the
commentary section on October 7, 2016.]


Contributed by Robert Lyman ©2016

Many people believe that renewable energy sources will be able to substitute for fossil fuels or nuclear energy to meet the needs of modern economies in future. There exist, however, very few scientifically sound studies that substantiate this impression. In a paper published in the journal Energy Policy in October 2016, Ferruccio Ferroni and Robert Hopkirk examine the case of photovoltaic (PV) power sources in Germany and Switzerland, areas of moderate insolation (the amount of solar radiation that reaches the earth’s surface) by using the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI). Their findings are relevant to the use of PV systems in countries like Canada.


The paper draws upon an analysis published in 2013 by Dale and Benson of 28 published reports on different PV installations using one of the currently available technologies. Dale and Benson found widely divergent energy demands required by these technologies.  The cumulative energy demands range from a minimum of 300 kWh per square meter of module area to a maximum of 2000 kWh per square meter. This is an indication that the reports were not using the same criteria in determining the boundaries of the PV system (i.e. the sources of energy demand associated with the construction and operation of the system).


According to official Swiss energy statistics (Swiss Federal Office of Energy, 2015), the average electricity production per square meter of PV module in Switzerland for the last 10 years was 106 kWh per square meter per year. While vendors of PV modules quote a lifetime of 30 years, the average lifetime of the modules has been about 17 years. On average, efficiency and hence performance degradations have occurred at the rate of about 1% per year. Assuming, however, that the modules operate for a life of 25 years, Ferroni and Hopkirk estimate the total energy returned over plant lifetime to be 88.1 times 25, or 2203 kWh per square meter.


The energy produced varies considerably by time of day and season. In Germany, the PV module produces during winter at its peak power for the equivalent of only 1.7 hours per day on average; in the summer period, it produces for only 3.3 hours per day. Due to the intermittent nature of the electricity production, a parallel electricity supply infrastructure has to be provided.


Ferroni and Hopkirk examine the energy costs of the PV modules in terms of the material, labour, capital and energy required to supply them. The average weight of a PV module is 16 kg per square meter and the weight of the support system, inverter and balance of the system is at least 25 kg per square meter (not including the weight of the concrete). The components are mainly steel, aluminum and copper. In addition, production requires the use of 3.5 kg of concentrated hydrochloric acid. PV systems are also quite labour and capital intensive.


In calculating the EROI, Ferroni and Hopkirk depart from the methodology used by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA’s methodology is based on information provided by companies in the photovoltaic industry and, in their view, is more suitable for comparing different PV technologies than for determining the efficiency and sustainability of the PV system as an energy source. Ferroni and Hopkirk list a number of other deficiencies of the IEA approach. Other experts, who use the IEA guidelines, found the EROI of PV system to range from 4.95 to 5.9.


Ferroni and Hopkirk use an “extended” definition of EROI based on the work of the ecologist Howard Odum. In Odum’s book, “Environmental Accounting: Energy and Environmental Decision Accounting” (1995), he showed that, considering the energy integrated in the construction, operation and decommissioning of a PV system, no “net energy” is obtained. The total energy required to produce a PV system and integrate it into the grid, plus that invested for the labour, capital and energy to build and operate the module totaled 2662 kWh per square meter.


The energy returned per square meter of module is 2203 kWh and the energy invested is 2662 Kwh, for a ratio of 0.82. Ferroni and Hopkirk estimate these numbers to have a possible error of plus or minus 15%. In other words, an electricity supply system based on today’s PV technologies cannot be termed an energy source, but rather “a non-sustainable energy sink or a non-sustainable energy net loss”.


To read the main references to this summary, see here:


Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2016

Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph and research chair at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, has studied and published articles concerning carbon pricing for over 20 years. He recently wrote a paper for the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy called A Practical Guide to the Economics of Carbon Pricing, in which he set out a few concepts that are well known in the academic literature but are largely overlooked in the public and political discussion.

In recent articles published in the Financial Post, he summarized some key messages from his Guide, which the following quotes indicate:

“First and foremost, carbon taxes are meant to be used instead of, not on top of, traditional regulations. Since Canada has a slew of greenhouse gas regulations, they must be removed before introducing a carbon tax. Otherwise, there is nothing in economic theory that says the carbon tax will remove the inefficiencies of the regulations. It will just increase their costs.

The existing Canadian policy framework includes a host of command-and-control regulations that have imposed carbon dioxide abatement at far more than any reasonable estimate of the appropriate tax rate.

The economic efficiency of a carbon tax comes not from setting a floor price, but a ceiling price. Policies like the federal biofuels mandate, energy conservation programs, renewables subsidies and coal phase-out rules might reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but they do so at marginal costs of hundreds of dollars per tonne. Adding a carbon tax on top of that does nothing to make the overall policy mix more efficient. But replacing those policies with a carbon tax would. In the process, it might also lead to higher carbon dioxide emissions, something that promoters of carbon pricing need to be upfront about.”

If I may supplement professor McKitrick’s message for a non-economist reader, when he writes about “inefficiencies”, he is describing actions that, in economic terms, reduce the efficient allocation of resources in society. In everyday language, these government programs and regulations waste taxpayers’ money and make all of us poorer.

When he referred to a “slew” of greenhouse gas regulations and a “host” of command and control measures, he was scratching the surface. There is not in Canada a comprehensive list of the policies, programs, and regulations that have been implemented by the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These programs and regulations have been building in number, reach and cost since climate change became a noticeable public policy issue in 1988. Today, there are huge bureaucracies established to design, implement, and (less frequently) evaluate these programs and regulations. They stretch like the tentacles of some vast octopus across every aspect of the Canadian economy and touch everyone’s life. As no one has ever established an inventory of the measures now in place or of those under consideration, no one knows how much these measures already cost Canadians. Two things are certain – they cost billions of dollars annually, and they are not going away soon, regardless of the taxes imposed on carbon.

To illustrate, here is a partial list of the measures that have already been implemented or are now being contemplated by the federal and provincial governments.

Electricity Generation 

  • Imposition of caps on GHG emissions from coal-fired power plants
  • Ratepayer subsidies (e.g. feed-in-tariffs) to solar, industrial wind and biomass plants
  • Introduction of time-of-use rates to raise electricity costs when demand is highest
  • Funding of carbon capture and storage in coal-burning power plants
  • Removing regulatory scrutiny over the land use, environmental and consumer cost impacts of renewable energy generation plants (Ontario)


  • Raising fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks
  • Introducing fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks and commercial vehicles
  • Subsidizing the production of ethanol and other biofuels research, development, production and manufacturing
  • Exempting biofuels from excise taxes
  • Imposing renewable fuel standards for gasoline and diesel fuel content
  • Municipal preferences for the purchase of biodiesel and electric buses costing three times as much as diesel buses
  • Huge subsidies (up to $14,000 per vehicle in Ontario) for the purchase of electric vehicles
  • Establishing province-wide targets for vehicle manufacturers to sell electric and hydrogen vehicles by 2020
  • Taxpayer subsidies for electric vehicle recharging stations
  • Requiring municipalities to add more cycling lanes at the expense of vehicle lanes
  • Taxpayer subsidies for the replacement of older vehicles
  • Requiring all new homes and townhouses with garages to be constructed with a 50-amp, 240-volt receptacle (plug) in the garage (Ontario)
  • Taxpayer subsidies to businesses that use alternative-fuel vehicles


  • Introducing much tougher (and more expensive) requirements for fuel efficiency in building codes
  • Ever-more-stringent regulations concerning the energy efficiency of appliances, ranging from dishwashers and clothes dryers to lawn mowers
  • Much increased taxpayer funding of energy efficiency in social housing
  • Providing taxpayer subsidies for apartment building energy retrofits
  • Much increased taxpayer funding for energy retrofits in all public buildings, including offices, schools, hospitals, and museums as well as privately-owned heritage buildings
  • Taxpayer funding of energy audits for pre-sale homes
  • Forcing the retirement of existing wood stoves and wood-burning fireplaces
  • Establishing a “low-carbon content” standard for natural gas
  • Banning the use of natural gas furnaces (proposed)
  • Much more restrictive land use planning to force development into denser patterns and integrating climate change as a priority consideration in land use planning


  • Industrial targets for energy efficiency improvements
  • Taxpayer subsidies for the use of renewable energy and high efficiency technologies
  • Establishment of “service standards for the use of alternative fuels in energy intensive industries
  • Taxpayer subsidies for retro-fitting of agri-food industry low-carbon technologies and companies engaged in food and beverage production
  • Taxpayer subsidies to First Nations communities, including large taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies to build electricity transmission lines to small, remote aboriginal communities
  • R&D tax credits for high efficiency and low-carbon technologies
  • Accelerated capital cost allowances for investment in high efficiency or low-carbon capital improvements

Almost every one of these measures has a large budget and a supporting bureaucracy.

Many programs or regulatory measures are of a type funded by two or three levels of government in a duplicative and uncoordinated way. There is no federal-provincial-territorial committee to ensure coordination and avoidance of duplication. Governments at all levels are falling all over themselves to be “green” with no agreement on what should be addressed at which level of government or common standards as to which measures are most effective.

The failure of the federal government to coordinate and to develop a strategic approach to coordinated management of climate change regulations and programs has been documented several times – specifically, in the audits of the Commissioner on the Environment and Sustainable Development (a branch of the federal Auditor General agency) in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2012. As stated in the most recent (2012) report:

“The federal government has not created effective governance structures for managing climate change activities designed to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. Our reports identified weaknesses in horizontal governance, accountability, and coordination.”

 “Environment Canada has no overall implementation plan that indicates how different regulations and federal departments and agencies will work together to achieve the reductions required to meet the 2020 target. The Department has not provided an estimate of the emission reductions expected from each sector or a general description of the regulations needed in each of the described sectors. The regulatory approach does not identify which specific industries within each economic sector the regulations will target, or how these regulations will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

 With respect to the long list of federal programs and regulations, the Commissioner found that Environment Canada had failed to exercise responsibility with respect to determining the cost of the measures.

Environment Canada does not know how much the regulatory approach will cost the Canadian economy… Environment Canada has not conducted a comprehensive analysis to estimate the combined cost of the sector-by-sector approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Nor has it estimated the impact on or costs to the Canadian economy of aligning its approach with the United States, or examined whether this is the most cost-effective option. These analyses are important in order to establish whether Canada faces proportionately higher costs than the United States in adopting an aligned regulatory approach.”

In theory, every one of the programs and regulations implemented by the federal and provincial governments has been subjected to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. With some exceptions, such as the regulations applying to fuel efficiency for light duty vehicles, it is difficult to find these. A central issue in cost-benefit analysis of greenhouse gas emission reduction measures is the valuation of the marginal benefit of emissions reduction, sometimes referred to as the “social cost” of carbon. The programs have involved no common test as to the value of a tonne of carbon dioxide avoided, or a check as to whether this value is realistic in terms of the alleged damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions. There is no evidence that the methodologies used to calculate emissions reductions to be obtained are credible. In other words, more often than not, the approach taken has been to say that it does not matter what it costs, because we are “saving the planet”.

There are few published reports that measure the performance of these programs and regulations in attaining their stated objectives; most of those that have been evaluated this way and have proven embarrassingly ineffective or expensive for the results achieved. The federal ethanol mandate is one example. Doug Auld and Ross McKitrick published a study showing that greenhouse gas reductions from corn ethanol production cost between $400 and $3,300 per tonne. The Ontario Green Energy Act cost $4 billion per year to eliminate 8 million tonnes of emissions; that equates to $500 per tonne.  Subsidies for electric vehicles cost more.

The fundamental objective of all these programs and regulations, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will be duplicated by the proposed carbon pricing and cap and trade systems. We will all be paying twice, if not three or more times, to achieve the same questionable objective.



Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2016  Robert Lyman is an energy economist, former public servant, and diplomat.

On October 3, the Trudeau government announced the broad outlines of its proposed carbon tax regime. It is a tax that will be designed to apply in areas of Canada in which the provincial or territorial government has not established a carbon tax or implemented a carbon cap and trade system that has the equivalent effect of a carbon tax. The rate of the tax will be uniform nationally, starting at $10 per tonne in 2017 and rising by $10 per year each year to $50 per tonne in 2022.


This is an enormous tax


According to the National Emissions Inventory published by Environment Canada, national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, were 732 million tonnes per year. Assuming a carbon tax applied to all emissions, and ignoring the growth in emissions almost certain to occur, this means that the annual revenue from a carbon tax to governments would increase from $7.32 billion in 2017 to $36.6 billion in 2022. This makes the proposed carbon tax, by 2022, roughly equal to the federal portion of the HST.


The promise of revenue neutrality cannot be believed


The only regime that has honoured its promise to return to taxpayers all the revenues raised from carbon taxes is British Columbia. The Federal Finance Department and the provincial treasuries of provinces like Ontario and Quebec will be certain to use the funds from a carbon tax to supplement general tax revenues. Almost all provinces are incurring huge deficits as a result of profligate spending and desperately want an additional source of funds so that politicians can spread them among favoured programs, projects and lobby groups. Ontario, for example, has already promised to spend the funds on transit and other programs that have little or no bearing on GHG emissions and that should be funded by the municipalities in any case.


The claim that this will create jobs ignores the experience of other countries.


The effect of a carbon tax will be to take revenues from individual taxpayers and from companies that are efficient and profitable and transfer them to certain favoured “green” enterprises that are uneconomic or that sell products based on immature technologies. Studies of experience in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy show that the effect of increased electricity prices due to subsidies to wind, solar and biomass plants was to reduce employment by two to three jobs for every one created in the renewables industries. Further, the claim that higher taxes on carbon will increase employment completely ignores the likely adverse competitive effects on Canadian companies that must pay the higher costs while competing with companies in other countries that do not bear this burden. To impose such major costs on Canadian companies without even waiting to find out what our competitors, especially in the United States, will do is irresponsible.


Even onerous carbon taxes will not meet the government’s emission goals.


No GHG emission reduction goal set by governments since they began doing so in 1988 has yet been met. The current Canadian government goal is to reduce emissions from 2005 levels by 30%, which amounts to 186 million tonnes per year, or 26% from current levels. That is equivalent to completely eliminating emissions from electricity generation and from energy intensive industries like mining, steel, auto manufacturing and petrochemicals, as well as sharply reducing transportation emissions.  Contrary to the claims of the New Democratic Party and some journalists, this is not a “moderate” goal. Yet, even a tax of $50 per tonne, which is equivalent to 11.5 cents per liter, will have only small effects on energy consumption and emissions, especially in transportation. This is why the Ecofiscal Commission and others who accept the global warming thesis have called for a tax of $300 per tonne or more. The present tax is just a “foot in the door” to much more onerous levies in future. The goals proposed cannot be achieved without severe damage to Canada’s economy.


It is all for nothing.


The reality is that not one single claim of environmental catastrophe made by those who believe in human-induced global warming has yet turned out to be true. The relatively small increases in average global temperatures over the past 25 years are far below what the modelers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have projected. Even if this were not so, the best analysis available from the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Energy information Administration and authoritative industry sources like British Petroleum and Exxon-Mobil indicates that, in the period to 2040, almost all the growth in global GHG emissions will occur in the developing countries like China, India and Southeast Asia. Canada’s emissions constitute 1.65% of global emissions and are declining over time. Canada literally could disappear overnight and it would have a small effect on current global emissions, while those emissions continued their inevitable upward trend. The Asian countries and others, in judging whether to incur economic costs to reduce emissions, care not one bit what Canada does or does not do. Carbon taxes, like so many expensive “green” measures, are nothing more than extremely costly symbolism.



Contributed by Robert Lyman @2016

Debates between those who claim humans are causing catastrophic global warming and those who dissent from this thesis often include questions related to whether technologies that today are immature or limited in commercial use will be much more quickly disseminated in future. For example, the advocates of the catastrophe theory argue that the world’s transport sector soon will be radically transformed through the rapid dissemination of electric vehicles (EVs), generally including electric hybrids (PHEVs) and all-electric cars (BEVs).


Typically, in debates of this nature, the dissenting side points to statistics concerning actual consumer purchases in the past. Catastrophe theorists brush that aside by pointing to ever more optimistic claims by technology marketers and government agencies committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the extensive use of “policy measures” (i.e. massive subsidies and product mandates). For further “evidence”, they point to the rapid penetration of computer and information technologies as a model and the significant growth in percentage sales (from very low levels) that have characterized EVs over the past decade. As the debate is about the future, neither side can prove its thesis.


In these circumstances, it would seem useful to at least establish a scorecard, or basis for determining statistically whether the sales of EVs are increasing at rates that justify the “optimistic” or “pessimistic” views.


Where are we now? According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), there were 1.25 million electric cars on the world’s roads at the end of 2015. 80% of the electric cars in the world are located in the United States, China, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway. Consumer acceptance of EVs, while growing, remains quite low; EVs constituted 1% or more of new vehicles sales in 2015 in only seven countries: Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France, China and the United Kingdom. In all these countries, large taxpayer subsidies (e.g. up to $7,500 per vehicle in the U.S.) provide the incentive to increase purchases. Today, EVs account for a negligible share (0.1%) of the global stock of personal and commercial vehicles.


What is the “policy” goal in terms of future sales? There is no single answer to this question. The IEA has established a process called Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) that seeks to define the objectives and the technology “roadmaps” that would achieve emissions reductions consistent with the objectives of the OECD countries. The IEA Vision is one in which global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will fall from 33 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2013 to about 15 Gt in 2050 and continue to fall after that. This (allegedly) would be consistent with the goal of maintaining the rise in global average temperatures at 2 degrees C. or less from pre-industrial levels. Today, the transport sector accounts for about 23% of global GHG emissions. The ETP 2DS scenario that the IEA uses as a basis for analysis foresees the transport sector accounting for 18% of the GHG emissions reductions needed to meet the IEA Vision. EVs are projected to constitute significantly to this objective. Specifically, the ETP 2DS foresees EVs constituting 150 million (10%) of the total light duty vehicle stock by 2030 and nearly 1 billion (40%) of the total light duty vehicle stock by 2050.


In 2009, several governments (including Canada) formed a multilateral policy forum called the Electric Vehicle Initiative (EVI) to accelerate the deployment of EVs worldwide. The goal of this group is the global deployment of 20 million EVs by 2020. The Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change was announced (with virtually no fanfare or media coverage) at COP21 in Paris in December 2015. The declaration sets targets of more than 400 million electric two-wheelers and more than 100 million EVs by 2030.


Other “expert” organizations have weighed in with their educated guesses as to how many EVs will be on the roads by 2020. Bloomberg Business News (almost always optimistic about the ease of attaining GHG emission reduction goals) projects 7.4 million. Adam Whitmore, a prominent independent expert who strongly favours EVs, projects somewhere between 7.8 to 13 million vehicles. OPEC, in its oil market analysis, projects only 1.7 million. British Petroleum, in its usually well-regarded February 2016 global energy forecast to 2040, foresaw almost no significant uptake of EVs until at least 2035. These projections are based on different assumptions as to whether governments will continue the current high level of taxpayer subsidies. According to the current U.S. program subsidies will end after 200,000 EVs are sold there. Other important assumptions concern the rates at which new battery technologies can be developed and commercialized, future vehicle prices and the rate at which sales will grow from current levels.


This provides at least a range of estimates that one might use as a way of measuring whether EVs are on track to meet the goals claimed by their advocates. By 2020, if the global inventory of EVs is three million or less, it will demonstrate conclusively that the technology is facing serious market barriers that may limit its role in reducing GHG emissions for decades. Continuation of the present relatively fast rate of growth in sales plus some acceleration could yield a global stock of 7.4 to 13 million EVs by 2020. While this would be impressive, it would still be an afterthought in a global vehicle population of about 1.3 billion. A 2020 EV population of 20 million (i.e. a 1600% increase from present levels) would match with current policy aspirations. By 2030, the COP21 and IEA policy prescriptions are for 100 million to 150 million EVs on the roads, a quite remarkable range of goals for only 14 years from now. This would be evidence that EVs had largely overcome the initial market barriers and were potentially on a path to becoming a large share of the vehicle stock. Still, at 150 million, EVs would only constitute 10% of the global vehicle stock; 1.35 billion vehicles would still be oil-fueled. If the IEA ETP scenario were to be attained, by 2050, (i.e. 34 years from now), EVs would come close to parity with oil-fueled vehicles in new car sales, but they would still represent only 40% of the global vehicle stock.


We are asked to believe that these goals will be achieved during a period of time when lower oil prices and continuing improvements in the technology of internal combustion engines are making oil-fueled vehicles ever more competitive. No target set by western governments for the expansion of the EV fleet has yet been met.


However, there is a first time for everything. With the figures set out in the preceding paragraphs, we have a yardstick we can use in future to debate the validity of the projections.