Friday, 30 October 2009

mixed-up confusion ... XXVIII

Up, Down.

I got mixed up confusion, man, it's a-killin' me.
     Bob Dylan, Mixed-Up Confusion, 1962.
I ain't afraid of confusion no matter how thick.
     Bob Dylan, Most of the Time, 1989.

not quite true in my case ... it's just no good being afraid when everything has become confused? ... dunno

Kagiso Lesego MolopeKagiso Lesego MolopeI am reading Kagiso Lesego Molope's book Dancing in the Dust, written so spontaneously (it seems) that a coherent vision emerges almost in spite of herself, this is more complicated than it seems - the book is full of small contradictions and unexplained shifts in attitude and emotion and a superficial sort of feminist ideology, but when I force myself to accept those inconsistencies then ... a complete human being seems to emerge from the murk ... I force myself because I think this vision of hers is somehow authentic, who can say? this is very back-handed complimenting I know ... her other book The Mending Season is not so easy to come by, hopefully I will get a copy eventually

I found the story of Serah Njoya a while ago, now she is back in the news again as this fellow, Thomas Cholmondeley, the murderer of her husband Robert Njoya Mbugua, is let out of jail after just a few months ...
Serah NjoyaSerah NjoyaSerah NjoyaSerah NjoyaRobert Njoya's widow Serah Waithera Njoya (centre), brother Joel Mwangi Mbugua (left) and sister Teresia Wangeci KiariaSerah NjoyaSerah Njoya
"I can't believe that he is free. There is nothing I can do. This is beyond me."
     Serah Njoya.

two facets of the climate debate: in the States the coal 'lobbyists' are caught red-handed playing dirty tricks and effectively get away with it, and in k-k-Canada there is what you would have to call an 'inspired' confusion around what we will do, or more likely not do, at Copenhagen in December ... both issues take a lot of words to get across ... boring ... enervating ... I can hardly rouse myself

and then a third facet on my mind which is the maggotty pundits & politicians who collect their cheques and raise their children and treat their wives and husbands well for the most part I suppose - and do shit beyond appearances about climate change ... even Ed Markey it seems to me ... oh well ...

looks to be the usual sort of cabal: Jack Bonner, is an 'adjunct professor' at American University in Washington DC, and runs a cozy course every year (by the look of it) where he cherry-picks 'associates', whom he then browbeats into doing what is necessary to generate 'good letters' in so called 'grasstops' campaigns, you can see some of the students in the C-Span videos 1994: Grassroots Lobbying Strategies, 1996: Grassroots Lobbying, & 2006: Mobilization of Third Party Groups, not a terribly preposessing crowd, more like desperate & vulnerable high-school graduates looking for something a few steps up from flipping burgers at MacDonald's ... and Jack makes a nice markup eh?

anyway ... the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity - ACCCE hires The Hawthorn Group, a 'kingmaker' PR firm, to sell their side of the coal mining story, and Hawthorn sub-contracts our Jack Bonner and his white-collar sweatshop, Jack Bonner & Associates, for some of it, they step wayyyy over the line, Ed Markey gets wind of it, calls them on the mat, nothing happens except that presumably Jack Bonner has to lay low for a while I guess - some clients may be embarassed to be 'associated'
Jack BonnerJack Bonner 1994Jack Bonner 1994Jack Bonner 1994Jack Bonner 1996Jack Bonner 1996Jack Bonner 1996Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner 2006Jack Bonner
John Ashford, The Hawthorn GroupSteve Miller ACCCESteve Miller ACCCESteve Miller ACCCESteve Miller ACCCEit's only the wee little fish that get snagged, after Jack Bonner there are a few more still on the scene: John Ashford of The Hawthorn Group, another ex-disc-jockey, Rush Limbaugh Mark II I guess but better educated, and Steve Miller, CEO of the ACCCE, here he is on YouTube: 1, 2, & 3, I say 'wee' but that must be an anatomical reference since all of 'em are at least millionaires eh?

Stephen Harper Heeeere's Harpo!this is incomplete, oh my ... I have not even touched upon the k-k-Canadian Confusion fiasco ... too bad conflagitation means 'an earnest desire', otherwise it would be perfect :-)

I have all the links in a file but I can't be bothered ... maybe later ... ok, here it is:

we have Bill C-311: An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, which calls for (a) as a long-term target, a level that is 80% below the 1990 level by the year 2050; and (b) as a medium-term target, a level that is 25% below the 1990 level by the year 2020,

and we have Climate Leadership, Economic Prosperity: Final report on an economic study of greenhouse gas targets and policies for Canada from the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation, analyzing the economic impacts of 20 per cent below the 2006 level by 2020,

and then the pundit jizz: from Jeffrey Simpson, two articles reporting on the same tables (one wonders if the Globe's news manager accidentaly assigned the story twice?) from Shawn McCarthy: Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques, and John Ibbitson: With eyes open to cost of climate change, it's time to decide, a sober-sided Editorial: Targets set without a plan, and costs that are perilous, a series of can't-be-dones from Jim Prentice, Rob Renner, & Bill Boyd: Climate change report 'irresponsible,' Prentice says, and finally, Rex Murphy: Don't turn up the heat on the West, interesting that when our Rex is talking sense he tones down the verbiage?

Pembina/Suzuki: 20% below 2006 by 2020,
Bill C-311: 25% below 1990 by 2020 & 80% below 1990 by 2050,
Mark Lynas: 60% by 2030 & 90% by 2050,
Gwynne Dyer: 40% by 2020 or 2030 & 80 by 2050,
Lester Brown's Plan B: 80% by 2020,
George Monbiot: 90% by 2030,
The Stern Report: 70% by 2050,
Marina Silva/Brasil: 20-40% below 1995.

Lord dyin' dancin' diddlin' crucified! - confused yet?

"You know, you girls have everything. You're tall and short and slim and stout and blonde and brunette. And that's just the kind of a girl I crave. Why, you've got beauty, charm, money! You have got money, haven't you? Because if you haven't, we can quit right now."

here's the Marx brothers starting with Harpo (above right) then Chico Groucho & Gummo (below), Zeppo to follow later maybe, Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner, & Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd:
Federal Environment Minister Jim PrenticeFederal Environment Minister Jim PrenticeFederal Environment Minister Jim PrenticeAlberta Environment Minister Rob RennerAlberta Environment Minister Rob RennerAlberta Environment Minister Rob RennerSaskatchewan Energy Minister Bill BoydSaskatchewan Energy Minister Bill BoydSaskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd
"So now I tell-a you how we fly to America. The first time-a we start-a, we get-a half way across when we run out of gasoline and we gotta go back. Then I take-a twice as much-a gasoline. This time we were just about to land, maybe three feet, when what do you think?
here we go, Rex can be ZeppoWe run out of gasoline again. And back we go again and get-a more gas. This time I take-a plenty gas. Well-a we get-a half way over ... when what do you think-a happen? We forgot-a the airplane. So we gotta sit down and we talk it over. Then I get-a the great idea. We no take-a gasoline. We no take-a the airplane. We take-a steamship. And that, friends ... is how we fly across the ocean."

"I've been around so long I can remember Doris Day before she was a virgin."

as for me it is something like this, but cigarettes not booze:
André Dahmer Malvados - Ressaca Dos Infernos
I've got a hangover from hell, don't charge me for the drawing.
The room is a mess and a little bearded man is sleeping on the floor (I don't remember his name, but yesterday he told me he that he was adopted).
On the door of the fridge, the certainty that I had a bad day.
Sorry about the bathroom.

one amusing bit from Real Climate cheers me up: An open letter to Steve Levitt, being an authoritative excoriation of the author of Superfreakonomics.

a-and some good news from Marina Silva: "Não há como fugir do aproveitamento energético do rio Xingu", diz Marina/"There is no way to run away from exploiting the energy of the Xingu river," which is a realistic attitude towards Belo Monte (at last!) it seems to me, and she also remains optimistic about Copenhagen (God bless her!) even if her target of 20-40% reduction fron 1995 emission levels introduces yet another (confusing?) base line

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.

     Bob Dylan, Every Grain of Sand, 1981, YouTube Live 1984.

Well, I'm lookin' for some answers but I don't know who to ask.

1-1. Convicted Kenya aristocrat freed, BBC, 23 October 2009.
1-2. The killer spared – Would a black killer be spared in the UK?, Jillo Kadida & Noah Cheploen, May 15 2009.
     1a. YouTube news 1, 2, 3.

2. "Não há como fugir do aproveitamento energético do rio Xingu", diz Marina, Fabíola Munhoz, 29/10/2009.

3-1 Once again, climate-change promises Ottawa can't keep, Jeffrey Simpson, Oct. 28 2009.
3-2 Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques, Shawn McCarthy, Oct. 29 2009.
3-3 With eyes open to cost of climate change, it's time to decide, John Ibbitson, Oct. 29 2009.
3-4 Targets set without a plan, and costs that are perilous, Editorial, Oct. 29 2009.
3-5 Climate change report 'irresponsible,' Prentice says, Bill Curry & Dawn Walton, Oct. 30 2009.
3-6 Don't turn up the heat on the West, Rex Murphy, Oct. 31 2009.

Convicted Kenya aristocrat freed, BBC, 23 October 2009.

Thomas Cholmondeley (L), son of the fifth Baron Delamere and descendant of Kenya's most prominent early settler, in Nairobi High Court on Thursday 14 May 2009

A white Kenyan aristocrat convicted of the manslaughter of a black poacher on his estate has been freed five months into an eight-month prison sentence. Thomas Cholmondeley was convicted in May for shooting Robert Njoya in 2006, having spent the previous three years in jail awaiting trial.

He was released for good behaviour and because he had less than six months to serve, prison officials said. Mr Njoya's widow was reported as saying said she could not believe he was free.

At the trial, the judge cut the murder charge to manslaughter, saying Cholmondeley did not show "malice aforethought". The Eton-educated 40-year-old shot Mr Njoya who had been hunting on Cholmondeley's 55,000-acre Soysambu ranch near Lake Naivasha in Kenya's Great Rift Valley.

Widow Serah Njoya said: "I can't believe that he is free. There is nothing I can do. This is beyond me," AFP news agency reported her as saying.

The case, involving the great-grandson of the third Baron Delamere, one of Kenya's first major white settlers more than a century ago, attracted huge media attention.

The killing was the second time in just over a year that Cholmondeley had fatally shot a black man.

In 2005 Cholmondeley admitted shooting a Maasai ranger, but the case was dropped owing to insufficient evidence. That decision provoked outrage and mass protests among the Maasai community.

The killer spared – Would a black killer be spared in the UK?, Jillo Kadida & Noah Cheploen, May 15 2009.

The shame that becometh, a result of Kenya laws as old as the protectorate under the white settlers and the shame that turns to luck for the white aristocrat, while the black widow languishes in pain of loosing her beloved husband, and here the mother of the killer has a good laugh.

LADY ANNE DELAMERE, Tom Cholmondeley’s mother

Kind, intelligent, articulate and, of course, very tall. This is how she described her son. They portray a mother’s love. In an interview with the Nation, Lady Ann recalled the day she received the news of her son’s arrest. She was in hospital in England, where she had gone for a cataract operation.

The message from her sister-in-law, that Tom had been arrested for a killing, again, was the worst news she could have got from home. She says that she loves Tom very much and believes he is not a murderer. Even in the midst of the tension-filled murder trial, Lady Ann has a sense of humour.

“Tom is my only live child out of five tries — I am not a good cow — and I love him very much,” she said. But she says of her son; “Tom “is incident-prone.” Lady Ann said that she talks to the family of Mr Robert Njoya, the man killed by her son.

“We’ve chatted in the prison courtyard with Serah Njoya. After a shy start, I asked after her children, who have now settled down and are doing well at school.” The young widow was kind to her, she says.

MRS SERAH NJOYA, Robert Njoya’s widow

“I will only be happy if justice is done and the killers punished,” Mrs Serah Njoya told the Nation a month ago. On Thursday, the man found guilty of killing her husband got off with a mere slap on the wrist – eight months in jail. Mrs Njoya looked on without betraying emotion when the judgement was delivered.

It is instructive, however, that just last week when the charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter, she displayed unusual empathy. Mrs Njoya said nothing could be gained by sentencing her husband’s killer to death and creating pain in his loved ones.

Mrs Njoya’s husband, Robert, a mason in Gilgil, was shot dead on May 10, 2006, by Tom Cholmondeley, heir to the Lord Delamere title. Aged only 31, she was robbed of a breadwinner, a husband and a companion of 10 years.

Her day starts at 5am and ends at 6pm. She does odd jobs to put food on the table for her children, Gidraph Mbugua, Michael Kamau, John Karegi and Joakim Githuku. On a good day she might make about Sh300 from her yam crop, but this once a week and after hard toil on the farm.

"Não há como fugir do aproveitamento energético do rio Xingu", diz Marina, Fabíola Munhoz, 29/10/2009.

A senadora e pré-candidata à Presidência da República pelo Partido Verde (PV), Marina Silva, disse hoje (29) que não há como o Brasil fugir da exploração sustentável de seus recursos hídricos, dentre os quais o do rio Xingu, no Pará, onde se pretende construir a usina hidrelétrica de Belo Monte.

A afirmação foi feita durante participação da senadora no lançamento de um produto da Serasa Experian, que pretende reunir informações sobre empresas e produtores rurais, quanto ao cumprimento da legislação ambiental.

Considerando as usinas hidrelétricas como fonte de energia limpa, Marina afirmou que o País tem que aproveitar seus rios, já que precisa apresentar ao mundo metas de redução de emissões de gases causadores do efeito estufa. Para ela, é preciso, porém, que a construção de hidrelétricas preveja um Programa de Desenvolvimento Sustentável (PDS) que dê governança sustentável a esses empreendimentos.

"Belo Monte é um projeto complexo. Se já tivesse sido feito um estudo sobre a necessidade de energia e de conservação do meio ambiente na região, seria possível a implantação da usina de forma sustentável", afirmou.

De acordo com a senadora, a elaboração de um PDS para a obra, prevendo a mitigação e a prevenção de possíveis impactos socioambientais da usina de Belo Monte, deve ser vista, não como entrave à realização do empreendimento, mas como exigência e necessidade.

"Não temos como preterir os recursos hídricos. Temos que resolver o problema no mérito, com planos de desenvolvimento sustentável, criação de unidades de conservação e criação de ferramentas que permitam implantar tudo isso", disse.

Nessa mesma linha de raciocínio, a senadora também defendeu as obras na BR-163- entre Santarém (PA) e Cuiabá (MT), dizendo que, embora o PDS do projeto ainda não tenha sido efetivado, está prevista a criação de áreas de conservação da floresta amazônica na região de abrangência da estrada.

"Não se pode pegar o que ainda não foi feito dentre o previsto no plano e generalizar, dizendo que ele não será cumprido", argumentou.

COP 15

Com relação a suas expectativas para a Conferência das Partes (COP 15), encontro internacional que discutirá, em dezembro, um acordo global para o enfrentamento das mudanças climáticas, Marina se mostrou otimista.

"Entendo que a preparação do Brasil para o evento não avançou, mas a entrada dos Estados Unidos nessa discussão multilateral já é um ponto favorável", afirmou.

Ela ponderou, porém que os países em desenvolvimento deverão assumir metas de redução de emissões de carbono de acordo com suas responsabilidades e em respeito à equidade entre as nações. De acordo com a senadora, as metas de redução das emissões brasileiras deverão ser estabelecidas entre 20% e 40%, com relação ao ano base de 1995.

O governo brasileiro já sinalizou que irá se comprometer com a redução de 80% do seu desmatamento, considerado a principal causa das emissões brasileiras. "É preciso que o Brasil tenha metas não só para as florestas, mas também para energia, agricultura e indústria, sendo que essas são perfeitamente factíveis", destacou Marina.

Once again, climate-change promises Ottawa can't keep, Jeffrey Simpson, Oct. 28 2009.

The government must know its policies will fail. But if the Conservatives expect people can be fooled or will tune out because they don't care or the issue's too complicated, why not?

We will all be hearing much, should we choose to listen, about the Canadian government's target heading into the international climate-change negotiations in Copenhagen.

The target is a 20-per-cent reduction in Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020. Forget it. That won't and can't happen – at least not the way the Conservatives are suggesting.

It's hard to know whom the Conservatives are fooling with this target. Other countries' experts know it won't be achieved with the policies on offer. Canadian experts know the number is for headline consumption only. The government must know its own policies will fail.

But if you can fool most people some of the time, or some people all of the time, or if you expect most people will not be paying attention because they do not care or the issue is too complicated, why not?

If you doubt these strong assertions, turn elsewhere in today's Globe and Mail, or go online, to read about the most comprehensive study yet of Canada's climate-change policy leading up to Copenhagen.

The study was financed by the Toronto-Dominion Bank, framed by the Suzuki Foundation and Pembina Institute, and done by the country's leading climate-change-simulation company, MJKA of Vancouver.

The study shows convincingly that the government's policies will not work and, as such, confirms previous studies done by other organizations. The bank, now housing the country's leading economic “think tank” (TD Economics), doesn't endorse the study, but finds its analysis and conclusions “robust,” which means highly credible.

What would it take to meet the 20-per-cent target? A whole lot more than the government is suggesting. What would be the cost to the economy of doing more? It depends how aggressive Canada wants to be. But if 20 per cent remains the target, then necessary measures would take a mere 0.16 per cent off economic growth yearly from 2010 to 2020.

Put another way, there would be a small overall national economic cost, and significant interregional economic flows from fossil-fuel-producing Alberta and Saskatchewan to other parts of Canada. But, even after those interregional flows, Alberta would still experience the country's strongest economic growth, and Canada's overall economic growth would remain strong. (The cost of doing nothing is considerable, of course, in the long term for Alberta, Canada and the world.)

Scaremongers would have to eat their words if they gave this study a fair-minded report, but so, too, would those who paint cost-free scenarios of reducing emissions.

How to hit the target? Find a price for carbon of $40 a tonne by 2011, rising to $100 a tonne by 2020, above what the government contemplates. Back that price with a series of regulations on vehicles, home efficiency, switching to lower-carbon fuels, and carbon from flaring and venting in upstream oil and gas production. Even with these and other measures, Canada will meet the 2020 target only by buying emissions credits offshore – something the government has steadfastly insisted it will not do.

Environmental groups such as Suzuki and Pembina, of course, want Canada to go beyond the 20-per-cent commitment. They won't get their way, not with this government. But then this government won't get its way with current policies.

Technological breakthroughs might help to reduce emissions in the long term, but, as the TD Bank observes, “it's not reasonable to expect that technical advances will provide a solution.” At least not by 2020 – and that includes Alberta's much-touted carbon sequestration (CCS) projects, two of which were recently announced.

If CCS projects work, they might bury carbon for a reasonable price (certainly far below the more than $700 a tonne that I wrongly reported last week). But the amount of reduction from CCS would still represent only a very small share of the province's total emissions. The rest of the measures will have to be much bolder than the ones contemplated by the government to reach its own targets, the ones Canada is taking to Copenhagen.

Once before, Canada went to a climate-change conference, at Kyoto, and made promises it could not and did not keep. It would appear a repeat performance is in the making. Or, to put things differently: new government, same script.

Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques, Shawn McCarthy, Oct. 29 2009.

Report reveals costs of taking action, now Canadians have to decide

Ottawa — Ottawa will have to lead a massive restructuring of the Canadian economy, with wealth flowing from the West to the rest of the country, if it is to meet its climate-change targets, a landmark report has concluded.

The Conservative government's goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 can be achieved, but only by limiting growth in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

This is the finding of a report, financed by the Toronto Dominion Bank and conducted by two environmental organizations, that for the first time offers a detailed regional breakdown of the economic impacts of pursuing a strategy of fighting global warming.

The report, which arrives as nations prepare to meet in Copenhagen to debate future plans to address climate change, is bound to increase tensions between provinces that rely on oil and coal production, which would have to sacrifice economic growth to meet any realistic targets, and Central Canada, which would be less affected and might even benefit.

Either through direct taxation or by capping emissions and forcing companies to buy allowances, the federal government would receive approximately $46-billion or more in revenues, which it would redistribute through spending and personal tax cuts.

In that event, Alberta's economy would be 8.5 per cent smaller in 2020 than projected under an unconstrained scenario, though it would continue to lead the country in growth through the decade, and the province would provide as much as $5-billion more in revenue than it would receive back.

The uneven regional impacts vividly illustrate Ottawa's political challenge in implementing the government's own relatively modest climate-change aspirations. In addition to the effects on Alberta, Saskatchewan would lose 2.8 per cent from its potential output. Ontario and Quebec would come out virtually unscathed, and employment growth would actually be higher in Central Canada.

The Harper government would have to move aggressively and quickly, with a range of highly interventionist policies not now planned, just to meet targets that opposition parties and environmentalists decry as too timid, the study concludes.

Meeting the more stringent standards recommended by environmentalists and many scientists would impose even more onerous burdens. Nonetheless, the report stresses, both sets of goals could be met while still preserving economic growth throughout the decade.

“While addressing climate change in Canada is certainly not going to be as easy as changing our light bulbs, it won't be as bad or economically difficult as some fear-mongers have been saying,” said Pierre Sadik, director of government relations for the David Suzuki Foundation. And it pales, he said, in comparison to the environmental and economic impact of unchecked emissions growth.

The TD Bank financed Calgary-based Pembina Institute and Vancouver's David Suzuki Foundation to produce the comprehensive report. The group contracted with respected economic consultants, M.K. Jaccard and Associates Inc., to model the impacts of climate policies; Jaccard has done similar work for the Canadian government.

TD's chief economist, Don Drummond, said the bank has not endorsed any targets, though it has supported a policy of a national emissions cap. He said the bank's interest was to shed light on an area where there has been little informed debate: the likely cost of imposing regulations.

Despite the steep costs involved in meeting targets, the analysis concludes the Canadian economy would continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace, and that investment in renewable energy and efficiency measures would result in an overall increase in employment compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario.

And even with the significant reduction in Alberta's potential growth and employment prospects, the province would still lead the country economically over the next 10 years.

The Pembina/Suzuki study advocates pursuing deeper emission-reduction targets than the Harper government proposes, ones that environmentalists say would be consistent with Canada's international obligations.

To meet the more ambitious target of reducing emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels, Ottawa would impose $72-billion worth of emission levies. By way of comparison, the federal corporate income tax brought in $40-billion in revenue last year.

And while Alberta would be a net loser, analysts from Pembina and Suzuki argue that gap could be closed by rebalancing equalization and other federal programs.

The government's commitment would require an effective carbon price of $100 a tonne by 2020, while the steeper reductions urged by the environmental groups would need a carbon price of $200 a tonne by that date, the study says. Ottawa has estimated carbon prices would be $50 a tonne by 2020.

Pembina climate researcher Matthew Bramley said Ottawa has to move far more urgently than it has to date if it intends to meet its own targets.

“We would be not even close” to meeting the 2020 goal with the current policy direction that the government has announced, Mr. Bramley said.

The Conservative government says it wants to wait for the results of the Copenhagen meeting and for the United States to finalize its climate-change policies before unveiling its own approach.

In addition to the large, regional transfer of wealth, Canada would have to spend up to $5-billion to purchase international emission credits, or face even higher costs at home. The Harper government insists that virtually all of Canada's effort will involve domestic action.

With eyes open to cost of climate change, it's time to decide, John Ibbitson, Oct. 29 2009.

Canadians must determine whether they're willing to bear the burden of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions

All we had were questions. Now we have answers. The answers aren't pretty.

A major bank has paid two environmental organizations to produce a groundbreaking report that, for the first time, calculates the costs of both the Harper government's modest plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and the much more ambitious targets set by the environmental community, nationally and regionally.

The conclusion: Canada can still meet a 2020 target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions below 1990 levels while preserving some economic growth through the next decade.

But to meet that target, the federal government must act immediately. The impact of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions will be deeply disruptive to the economy. It will be very expensive. And Alberta, especially, will suffer.

“It will be the biggest fiscal shock in Canadian history,” observes TD chief economist Don Drummond. “But the study shows it can be done.”

The question is whether Canadians are willing to bear these burdens, in the cause of preventing a potential environmental catastrophe, whether our leaders are willing to pay the political price of acting in the planet's best interests.

But no one now can hide behind bafflegab and rhetoric. The stark truth confronts us. Fighting global warming will cost us. A lot.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank provided funding to the David Suzuki Foundation and environmental research group the Pembina Institute, which in turn brought in the respected economic modelling firm of M.K. Jaccard and Associates, to create a rigorous and unbiased assessment of what Canada will look like in 2020 if (a) it adopts the Harper government's plan to reduce emissions 3 per cent below 1990 levels or (b) adopts the much more ambitious goal of 25 per cent below 1990 levels, which environmentalists and many scientists say is essential to prevent the worst impacts of rising temperatures.

To get there, Canada will have to turn itself into an environmental Elysium, and do it practically overnight. To meet any 2020 target, the report concludes, the federal and provincial governments must immediately impose sweeping and powerful legislation.

A new system that caps and then lowers industrial emissions, forcing industries to purchase credits to offset anything they emit above that cap, would have to be up and running by 2011, which is probably politically impossible.

All new residential construction would have to be 50 per cent more energy efficient than the average new home today. All motor vehicles would have to meet the strict new fuel-efficiency standards that will come into effect in California in 2012. All home appliances would have to be as energy efficient as the most efficient ones today. All homes and offices constructed in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec would have to be heated electrically. There would be much else besides.

Even in this extremely energy-frugal world, and in pursuit of the most modest Harper-government targets, there would be an enormous gap between target and actual performance. To close that gap, by 2020 Canada would annually be purchasing somewhere between $2-billion and $6-billion of offshore carbon credits a year, depending on whether the rest of the developed world enacts similar measures.

To meet the environmentalists' goal, the cost would be $8-billion. And in the environmentalists' case that assumes that new methods – which haven't been invented yet – would be capturing and storing much of the carbon generated by energy-producing industries, including new production from the oil sands.

Beyond the cost to government is the impact of these actions on the economy. By 2020, Ottawa would be raking in between $46-billion and $72-billion annually, a staggering sum, from the carbon credits that industry would be paying. (Which is why cap-and-trade is really just a carbon tax by another name.) All that money would be flowing back, however: in income-tax cuts to compensate for rising heating costs; in subsidies to industries most severely affected by higher energy costs; in promoting alternative energy sources, mass transit and high-speed rail; and in purchasing offshore credits.

The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation point out that the overall impact on economic growth will be minimal, and employment will actually increase, as the country restructures to become more energy efficient.

“With strong federal and provincial policies, Canada can meet” even the most ambitious targets “and still have a strong, growing economy, a quality of life higher than Canadians enjoy today, and continued steady job creation across the country,” they maintain in their analysis of M.K. Jaccard's numbers.

But while there would continue to be overall growth – assuming there isn't another recession – Alberta's gross domestic product would shrink between 7 and 12 per cent below what it would be without these reforms. Saskatchewan and British Columbia would suffer more modest losses.

Industrial production would, in many cases, languish at 2008 levels, and some sectors would require massive subsidies to maintain even that output. And then there is the incalculable: the economic impact as Canada shifts from capital-intensive industries to labour-intensive industries, as it weans itself from fossil-fuel production and manufacturing based on cheap energy.

“The sheer magnitude of the shock means there are lots of moving pieces and some of them move in extreme fashion,” observes Mr. Drummond. Over all, things are predicted to work out, but some regions, some industries, some people, could suffer greatly.

And then there are the intangibles, the things no model, no matter how carefully conceived and applied, can predict, especially when “not only has there never been anything of that magnitude, but nothing of that nature,” he adds.

The bank, which substantially financed the report in the interests of informed debate, has no position on whether Canada should pursue a strategy to fight global warming.

Canada will be severely affected by a melting polar ice cap, rising oceans and higher temperatures. If the rest of the developed world, and eventually the developing world as well, join in, we might reach the targets the scientific community has warned must be reached to prevent the worst from happening. Better a decade of discomfort, perhaps, than a century of misery.

At least now we can have this debate with open eyes. We now know the costs, if we act today. We know the cost will only increase with every month of delay. The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation have had the courage to uncover and to tell us the truth. Now Canadians must decide what to do.

Targets set without a plan, and costs that are perilous, Editorial, Oct. 29 2009.

A comprehensive climate-change analysis for Canada released today sharpens the focus on a question the federal government has been loath to answer. What is its plan?

A comprehensive climate-change analysis for Canada released today attempts to fill a vacuum of inaction. It is the wrong approach; its all-out attack on the oil and gas sector is politically and economically unacceptable, and would euthanize a vital Canadian industry. But it sharpens the focus on a question the federal government has been loath to answer. What is its plan? Does it have alternatives that are achievable, and that can demonstrably meet its greenhouse gas emission targets? If not, it is time for the government to come out and say so.

The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation study, sponsored by TD Bank, outlines policies that would reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels as of 2020 (this is the federal government's target), and reduce emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels in 2020 (the United Nations-sanctioned target requested of all developed countries to keep the growth in world temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius). Remarkably, the economic consequences of a deeper emissions cut (2.1-per-cent annual GDP growth) are just a shade under the consequences of a smaller cut (2.2 per cent), and not far from GDP growth if there is no new policy (2.4 per cent). This is good news, to the extent that economic growth years hence can be predicted at all. But the gulf is elsewhere, in the transformative changes the study says are needed to meet the government's target.

The recommendations are radical: capturing methane emissions from almost all landfills; effectively banning new nuclear power construction; California-level fuel efficiency standards for vehicles; and, to meet the UN emissions reduction target, the study says carbon capture and storage, an unproven technology, ought to be made mandatory for new oil and gas developments.

Not that there would be many. The study assumes a price on carbon emissions, through either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, something the government acknowledges will be necessary. But it sets that price at $40 per tonne in 2011, rising to $100 per tonne in 2020. This is far above the estimated $15-$26 (U.S.) target price until 2020 emerging from a major U.S. congressional proposal, the Waxman-Markey bill.

And what is the estimated impact on the oil patch, from this and other changes? A 16- to 26-per-cent reduction in gas extraction, and an 18- to 19-per-cent reduction in petroleum refining in 2020, compared with 2005. Albertans and Alberta companies would pay $15- to $24-billion annually in 2020. The industry would be devastated, and so too would Alberta's economy (and, to a lesser extent, Saskatchewan's). This is unacceptable.

There are echoes of Stéphane Dion's Green Shift, as the analysis proposes to return almost half of the carbon revenues through income tax reductions, and direct energy rebates to households, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan. These measures would lessen the regional pain, but the study acknowledges that what is proposed is no less than an economic upheaval: “There is a migration of capital and labour out of carbon and trade exposed sectors (e.g., fossil fuels) to sectors that are less carbon and trade exposed (e.g., manufacturing, services and renewable electricity).”

Canada cannot take its national unity for granted and must not, in the service of international obligations, allow itself to be immolated by a government policy of such wrenching dislocation.

There's one other idea of limited palatability. The purchase of emissions credits overseas accounts for around one-fifth of the reductions under the analysis, on the premise that a reduction in greenhouse gas anywhere in the world is desirable. (Climate-change legislation currently before the U.S. Congress involves a similar scheme.) But there has been little political ground laid for this transfer of wealth from Canada to poorer countries.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. No politician who wants a chance to govern Canada would dare pick it up. So where does that leave us? The federal government clings to its “20 per cent by 2020” target, but has been reluctant to release any updated plan on how to get there. Certainly, it has failed to release the kind of extensive costing and number-crunching that was done by the Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation and ought to stand as the minimum level of policy engagement on such a complicated question. In this respect, its behaviour is alarmingly similar to that of the federal Liberals, whose inaction on Kyoto it understandably derides to this day.

The federal government pledges co-ordinated action with the United States, but it has yet to respond to the many American moves in recent months. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued rules requiring 14,000 large emitters to get operating permits and prove that they have the best available anti-emission technologies. Two major climate-change bills that would establish a cap-and-trade system are now before the U.S. House and Senate. A national low-carbon fuel standard for automobiles that could disqualify products from the Canadian oil sands may be in the offing.

There may still be some low-hanging fruit, in energy efficiency and clean technology, to help Canada reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Canadians may be ready, if reluctantly, to feel some pain in the move to a lower carbon future. But there is no silver bullet; voters rejected the Green Shift in the last federal election, and the Pembina Institute/David Suzuki Foundation analysis is unsaleable and dangerous.

With the Copenhagen climate-change conference less than six weeks away, we stand at a critical juncture. There are two paths.

The federal government must present a policy package that will show, and not just tell, how Canada will meet its stated and international obligations to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Or the target may be unreachable without unacceptable damage to Canada's economy and national unity. In which case, it is time for new targets, and new policies.

Climate change report 'irresponsible,' Prentice says, Bill Curry & Dawn Walton, Oct. 30 2009.

Western provinces believe landmark study on economics of climate-change targets reaches unworkable conclusions

Ottawa and Calgary — A landmark report on the economic impact of meeting climate-change targets has run into a storm of opposition, with Western provinces calling it divisive and the federal government saying it would spell economic disaster.

“We would be extremely opposed to any kind of a carbon tax or some other kind of tax that would result in a significant wealth transfer from our province to any other province or area of the country,” said Saskatchewan Energy Minister Bill Boyd.

Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice said there is no way Western Canadians could absorb the deep economic hit projected by the report's environmentalist authors – the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute.

He said their assumptions are way off: The long-term economic conditions they forecast will be avoided by working with the Americans on a continental climate-change plan.

“The conclusions [the report] draws are irresponsible,” said Mr. Prentice in an interview with The Globe and Mail from Kingston, where he was meeting with provincial and territorial environment ministers. Specifically, he said Canadians will not accept the report's advocacy of emission targets for 2020 that would reduce Canada's gross domestic product by 3 per cent nationally and 12 per cent in Alberta from business-as-usual estimates.

The report, which was financed but not endorsed by the Toronto Dominion Bank, provides the estimated costs for Canada to meet the Conservative government's own target to reduce emissions to 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020, as well as a more stringent target advocated by environmentalists.

The projections rely on an economic modelling scheme designed by Mark Jaccard & Associates, which produced similar models for the federal government.

The report said meeting the government's target would require a cap on emissions and a penalty – or “carbon price” – on industry that rises from $40 to $100 per tonne of CO{-2} emissions. The environmentalists' target would start at $50 per tonne in 2010 and rise to $200 per tonne by 2020.

Mr. Prentice insisted Thursday that Canada's target can be achieved by harmonizing with U.S. proposals that are currently estimated to be about $28 per tonne.

“The kind of economic consequences you see in this report are not necessary if this is done in an orderly way,” he said, noting the costs must be acceptable in all regions. Mr. Prentice also said Canada will not cap emissions alone and that he expects the U.S. Senate will not approve new climate rules until next year.

The slower-than-expected timeline for the U.S. plan has led the United Nations to play down expectations that the world will reach a detailed new climate-change pact this December in Copenhagen. Instead, that gathering is now aimed at producing a more general agreement.

Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner, who was also at the Kingston meeting Thursday, said the report is “divisive” and unworkable.

“Alberta is not asking for special privileges nor are we asking to get some kind of a free pass,” he said in an interview. “We're in this, we're taking it seriously and we're going to do everything that we can to mitigate the issue of CO{-2} as it relates to Alberta.”

Mr. Renner said the report does point out that meaningful emissions reductions are technically possible with significant technology spending. Alberta has been investing heavily in carbon capture and storage projects as a way to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mr. Boyd said the way to solve climate-change concerns is through technology – and perhaps a technology fund – not transfers of wealth from energy-producing provinces.

The report provided fodder for both the left and the right Thursday in Ottawa, where MPs are studying an NDP bill, C-311, that proposes emission targets in line with those forecast by the David Suzuki Foundation and Pembina.

Conservative MPs at the table said the report shows the NDP's proposals would hurt Alberta and put national unity at risk.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan defended the report, saying many Albertans would welcome slower growth in the oil sands, and it would reduce the need for Canadians from other regions to fill Western job shortages.

“The Conservatives are trying to say, ‘Clearly if we go in that direction it's going to hammer Alberta and Saskatchewan.' I read it completely different,” she said, predicting her province would be in line for new technology investments. “I think what it shows is Alberta will do very well under the green scenario.”

Don't turn up the heat on the West, Rex Murphy, Oct. 31 2009.

By making Western provinces pay for adventures in global warming policy we will be playing with Confederation

An article on The Globe's front page carrying the headline “Canada can meet its climate goals, but the West will write the cheques” raises, among many others, two very interesting points. The article is about a study, conducted by two ardent environmental advocacy groups – the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation – and was sponsored by the Toronto Dominion Bank.

The headline has the virtue of capturing the first point I want to underline. In our new green-genuflecting age any substantial, purely Canadian effort to curb greenhouse gases – any policy, economic or otherwise – will have a massive and negative impact on Alberta and Saskatchewan.

If there are taxes on oil development, if we introduce carbon penalties on industry, if there is a deliberate brake put on the oil sands, or an effort to shut them down altogether – this latter not an unthinkable proposition in certain quarters – whatever is done will, sooner or later, take revenues and jobs, take enterprise, out of Alberta in particular. For purely projected and speculative benefits to the world's climate a century hence – and, despite the unctuous insistence of many to the contrary, speculative they remain – people are seriously considering policies that will penalize the West for its success as an energy producer now.

This is reckless. The oil industry of some Western provinces has been Canada's dynamo these past few years. It has been our major shield during this recession. It has given the dignity of jobs to tens of thousands of Canadians. It is all that. But if “Central” Canada, as the political and economic axis of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal is still known in some quarters out West, now – under the impetus of the green craze – is seen to be setting limits, placing penalties, or bleeding disproportionate taxes, particularly in Alberta's case, it will churn a backlash that will make regional hostilities set loose by the national energy program a few decades ago seem like warm-ups for a yoga class.

It will shape a whirlwind of political discontent, set the West against East, and far from incidentally have deep repercussions in the many other provinces that have their citizens working in one capacity or another in the oil patch. The fury over the national energy program may be spent, but its memory – pardon the word – is green. That fury, I reiterate, will be as nothing compared with the political fury of a second attempt to “stall the West.” Should some global warming action plan attempt to put the oil sands and Western energy development at significant disadvantage, or draw taxes out of the economies of the Western provinces to pay for adventures in global warming policy, we will be playing with Confederation.

That is a prediction it takes no computer modelling to make. If Alberta in particular, and the Western provinces more generally, come to be portrayed as villains in the global warming morality play, more than the climate a century hence is at stake.

Secondly, I would urge a caution to all people working in the oil sands in particular. The TD study – farmed out to the economic specialists of the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute – should be seen as a loud, low shot across the bow. The oil sands project, already castigated by every green-blooded organization on the planet, featured in a full-blown National Geographic hit-job some months back, is going to be the great emblem of a world “toxifying” itself, and paving the way for global warming Armageddon. It is now boilerplate in news stories as the “dirtiest project on the planet.” It photographs vividly – as National Geographic's glossy toss-off demonstrates – because of its scale and makes for wonderful anti-energy posters. The oil sands are a target.

Environmentalists are very good at what they do. They play the news media better than Glenn Gould doing a Bach prelude. They know how to sell their point of view, how to build a villain, how to shortcut an argument. Big Green – and there is a Big Green as much as there is a Big Oil – knows the game. Find a symbol. Find one project that, superficially, can stand for all others. The oil sands, despite the hundreds or thousands of less scrupulous and governed energy projects all over the world, despite China's spectacular use of coal, or the accelerated developments all over the Third World, will be the emblem of choice for the eco-warriors. The media-smart apostles of Al Gore, the Sierra Club and hundreds of other NGOs and eco-lobbies will turn the oil sands into the blight of our time.

It's only a number of weeks ago, remember, that the great crisis in the auto industry called forth billions to rescue the great manufacturing base of Central Canada. The West will note the contradiction. Spend billions to save an industry that runs on petroleum – it's here in Ontario – hit the source industry to “save the planet” – that's in the West.

Pursue this course and things will get warm. And I'm not talking about the climate.

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