Saturday, December 09, 2006

Scared Green

It's probably too much to ask for parliamentarians to work together to save the planet but, luckily enough, I think we might get the next best thing. Between the hype around Elizabeth May and the triumph of the green scarves in Montreal, it seems that all parties are now scared of losing the environmental vote (such as it may, or may not, exist).

What this means is that the major parties will, one by one, try to cut each other off by offering more and more environmentally friendly policy. It's how we got the welfare state and if it gets us some sound environmental measures, then those Canadians who keep ranking the environment as their top priority on phone surveys deserve a big thank you.

30 Comments:

  • I still don't trust that Canadians are willing to pay the true cost of environmental initiatives. Once they know how much more their gasoline and home heating bills will be I don't think people will support these initiatives.

    People have and will continue to support initiatives to reduce smog, and other visible pollutants. Whether they will be willing to go even further to help solve global warming (if it even can be solved) remains to be seen.

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 3:25 PM  

  • This Zogby poll taken post US mid-term elections may provide a precursor for what may happen at the ballot box in Canada:

    Zogby Post-Election Poll: Dems Gained From Global Warming Debate

    Half of Americans who voted in the mid-term elections said concern about global warming made a difference in who they voted for on Election Day 2006, according to a recent Zogby International post-election survey. Eighty-five percent of these voters who felt global warming was important cast their votes for Democratic Congressional candidates, including 48 percent of Independents and 7 percent of Republicans.

    The national Zogby Interactive poll surveyed 19,356 adults and contained a margin of error of +/- 0.7 percentage points.

    Also in the post-election survey, a solid majority (58%) of voters agreed their elected officials “should make combating global warming a high priority.” Three-quarters (75%) of Americans who voted in the mid-term elections say the “U.S. Congress should pass legislation promoting renewable and alternative energy sources as an effective way to reduce global warming pollution.”

    “Global warming was overshadowed in this election by the dominant issue of Iraq,” said John Zogby. “But exit polling shows that global warming was a sleeper issue that may have snuck up on politicians in close races. Global warming was most influential among Latinos and youth – two constituencies that helped propel Democratic gains. There are also signs that global warming may be eroding support for Republicans among religious voters. Looking ahead, politicians in both parties ignore this issue at their peril.”


    ...

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 3:37 PM  

  • Kyle,

    Please pay attention to what Dion has been saying for the past several months. Environmental initiatives are not more costly- quite the opposite. They are the drivers of innovation, research, and cost savings.

    Take your home for example, let's say you retrofit it with super insulating windows, and better lighting fixtures. That would mean less costs for your energy bill and, with government subsidies, it would not cost much.

    Take another example, hybrid cars. Here we see savings in gas expenses. How much are the savings? You'll save about half of your regular gas bill every time you fill the tank.

    There are plenty of other examples that I could give you.

    By Blogger Jeremy Kirouac, at 3:53 PM  

  • If Dion was so concerned about the environment . . . what was he doing about it last year? Or the year before that?
    Scientists believe that if we meet all our Kyoto commitments around the world that by 2050 we could reduce the temperature by maybe .6 degree C.
    Imagine that where you are today that the temperature would be 1 degree F cooler . . . wow!!!! Get your swimsuit . . lets go for a dip in the pool, unless of course you live in Whitehorse, it will be -35 instead of -36. Now that's progress!!!

    By Blogger EX-NDIP, at 4:11 PM  

  • And that's the right approach. Instead of parroting the Conservative mantra that we can't meet targets, and that environmentalism is "costly", then we start to make progress instead of continuing on the path to regression. Technology makes environmentalism easier, not more expensive. Heck, some things we can do actually start saving money, and are cheaper than our current methods of going about our lives. How much harder is it to put some cothes on a clothes-horse or line, instead of using the dryer for everything (in Summer)? And a compost or vermicompost bin can be used by people in apartment buildings even to make free potting soil and fewer trips to the dumpster. Biking to work saves gas, wear, and is a free "gym membership".

    Let's stop blaming conservation for ending the party, and see that pollution is the real end of everyone's party.

    By Blogger Saskboy, at 4:15 PM  

  • Remeber 2000, the French President Jacques Chirac said, at the Hague, "Kyoto represents the first component of an authentic Global Governance."

    Does this not sound a little bizzare . . . scarrey even . . .

    By Blogger EX-NDIP, at 4:15 PM  

  • "Get your swimsuit . . lets go for a dip in the pool, unless of course you live in Whitehorse, it will be -35 instead of -36. Now that's progress!!!"

    Ex, thanks for providing a timely example of how Conservatives misunderstand simple concepts like "average temperature".

    By Blogger Saskboy, at 4:16 PM  

  • Jeremy Kirouac, highbrid cars might save gas - however you have to think of the entire problem as an economist :How do you encourage people to buy hybrid cars?

    Over the past few years, gasoline prices have increased, and some people have bought either smaller or hybrid cars.

    So if you want a societal wide change, that actually has results, you need to have incentives or disincentives on the consumer level. If you don't have these direct incentives, disincentives you end up with the one tonne challenge, an appeal to your moral duty to act.

    The one tonne challenge didn't work. So how do you effect changes on the market place? Subsidy on things you like, and tax on things you don't like.

    The easiest way to modify behaviour is through cost. Since most GHG in Canada come from transportation, the best way to change consumer behaviour that would impact GHGs would be a gasoline tax.

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 4:34 PM  

  • There are many little things that, when taken together, will make a big difference for energy conversation. We might consider banning drive thrus, for example, as they contribute to wasteful idling.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 8:51 PM  

  • "Since most GHG in Canada come from transportation, the best way to change consumer behaviour that would impact GHGs would be a gasoline tax."

    Typical liberal bullshit. Most GHG DOESN"T comed from transporation, it comes from public utilities with Ontario Hydro leading the way.

    If your going to state facts at least make them correct.

    By Blogger Fred Mc, at 8:54 PM  

  • Typical liberal bullshit. Most GHG DOESN"T comed from transporation, it comes from public utilities with Ontario Hydro leading the way. If your going to state facts at least make them correct.

    Freddy Mc: This is the best source I could find (1995) that confirms what Kyle G. suggested was correct. Transportation leads (in 1995) with 30.1%.

    Perhaps you can provide more current data, and a link to substantiate your undocumented claim.

    Btw I don't agree with Kyle's view on willingness of Canadians to pay, but your comments added nothing of value the way they were presented.

    It makes your last sentence a bit ironic if your claims are unfounded.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 9:37 PM  

  • The Anonymous Green: Do you want to campaign on a 20, or 50 cent per litre gasoline tax next elect?

    Policies are not any good when they can't be implemented due to not being elected, or will be tossed by a different government as soon as they get in.

    If retorfit programs, and programs appealing to people's sense of soceital good worked, the one tonne challenge would have been wildly successful. It was not.

    No matter what people say about environmental initiatives being cheap, and easy, you just have to look at the difficulty Ontario is having in closing its coal power plants. Now imagine you needed similar emmissions reductions in all areas of the economy.

    We don't do ourselves any favours by saying this will be easy. If we present a plan to Canadians that has though choices we may have found the ticket (just like the tough choices of lowering the deficit a decade ago).

    Defending initiatives that failed under our government to reduce emissions as a plan for the future is suicide. We need to reframe the debate if we have any chance at winning it.

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 10:24 PM  

  • The Anonymous Green: Do you want to campaign on a 20, or 50 cent per litre gasoline tax next elect?

    Policies are not any good when they can't be implemented due to not being elected, or will be tossed by a different government as soon as they get in.

    If retorfit programs, and programs appealing to people's sense of soceital good worked, the one tonne challenge would have been wildly successful. It was not.

    No matter what people say about environmental initiatives being cheap, and easy, you just have to look at the difficulty Ontario is having in closing its coal power plants. Now imagine you needed similar emmissions reductions in all areas of the economy.

    We don't do ourselves any favours by saying this will be easy. If we present a plan to Canadians that has though choices we may have found the ticket (just like the tough choices of lowering the deficit a decade ago).

    Defending initiatives that failed under our government to reduce emissions as a plan for the future is suicide. We need to reframe the debate if we have any chance at winning it.

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 10:29 PM  

  • Ok, will try to reframe the debate.

    Let's try this approach. One half of the world's 6 billion population lives on less than $2/day.

    My grande drip coffee at Starbucks cost me $2 today. Not a major expense.

    Say the total cost of any GHG reduction program would be totally borne by individual Canadians (highly unlikely). What would that $2 per day contribute annually?

    ~ 30 million people (0.5% of world population) x $2 /day x 365 days/yr. = $21.9 B per year.

    Has any politician or any industry lobbyist ever claimed implementing any GHG reduction program would even come remotely close to this cost?

    It seems a very minor cost to pay to maintain such a high standard of living, living in large houses, driving SUVs, etc. etc.- one of the highest standards of living in the world.

    How can one possibly argue otherwise?

    So, perhaps the debate should be reframed in those terms. 'Wake up and smell the coffee".

    Pretty hard, frankly, to take seriously anyone who claims the cost is prohibitive, in such a rich country.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 10:53 PM  

  • It would be nice if the gov focused on making mass transit into a true alternative to cars in all Canadian cities... huge investment would help clean the air + produce numerous other benefits...

    We need to put some real effort into getting cars off the road... when I drive downtown (Toronto) every week from work for vball it takes me almost an hour... with no traffic it might take 20 minutes... I can't even imagine how much pollution gets pumped into the air every rush hour when traffic is stop and go in this city.

    By Blogger MERBOY, at 12:40 AM  

  • Anon Green.

    Is there a program (or suite of programs) where we could reduce our GHGs by over 1/3rd by spending 20 billion a year? Certainly we could spend that much expanding transit, building more nuclear and hydro plants, upgrading houses and such.

    But in the end, isn't this all about behaviour modification? Will people drive less if transit is more plentiful? I would say yes, but only to a certain level. Once traffic is sane agaIn and the roads are just under there carrying capacity (very little congestion), will people still avoid driving (the marginal consumers)? Will people consume less power because it is now non-polluting? Will people still set their thermostats to only 17' in winter knowing their house is more efficient?

    The answer is no. From an economist point of view, people will aim to spend the same amount on goods and services unless you change the prices for these goods. They will consume more for the same price if you let them.

    So you get into the argument: is it morally better to consume less?

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 1:37 AM  

  • Kirouac and others this "green economy is more efficient" stuff is crap. Is it in the interests of one of the world's largest oil exporters, with 60% of global investable reserves to work to destroy a fossil fuel economy?

    You use the advantage of hybrid cars - THEY DON'T SAVE YOU MONEY BECAUSE THEY COST TO DAMN MUCH, unless you plan on driving from Toronto to Sudbury every day.

    Sure, with research a lot of green technologies can be economically viable. Do you really think Canada can single-handedly make a difference in this regard?

    Finally, a green economy surely MEANS cutting back consumption. That means lower output - in other words fewer jobs and higher prices (aka. screw the poor).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 1:37 AM  

  • Well mr. Anonymouse green, I'll gladly back up my claim with a link to substantiate it. And in return I expect an appology from you.Oh, and by the way, your info is 11 years old.

    "The database, available on the PollutionWatch web site ( www.PollutionWatch.org ), shows that 321 facilities across Canada emitted 278,890,313 tonnes (CO 2 equivalent) of greenhouse gases, more than one-third (37%) of the country's total emissions. That's more than the total greenhouse gas emissions from cars, trucks, planes and trains combined. The PollutionWatch web site uses greenhouse gas emissions data provided by industry to the federal government. The data, which cover emissions for 2004, were reported by individual facilities in June 2005.

    By Blogger Fred Mc, at 2:25 AM  

  • I agree, Dan - all party's are trying to move in on the environment, which is probably a good thing - so long as we can have an informed/informative national debate on what routes we want to choose to take. No side should resort to hysteria and name-calling - it only leads to a lack of information.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:19 AM  

  • Fredd Mc: Here's my apology:

    I apologize that you don't know the difference between a utility and an industrial source of GHG emissions.

    The 1995 data originally provided showed tansportation 30.1%, power generation 20.4%, industrial 15.4%.

    If you combine power generation and industrial, you get 35.8%, fairly close to the 37% you quote, even though my data is 11 years old.

    The Pollution Probe datatbase you cite shows 321 FACILITIES, which includes both utilities and industry.

    Take for example the top ten from the Pollution Probe site:

    1 Ontario Power Generation
    2 Transalta Utilities Corporation
    3 Saskatchewan Power Corporation
    4 Alberta Power (2000) Ltd.
    5 Nova Scotia Power Incorporated
    6 Syncrude Canada Ltd.
    7 Suncor Energy Inc. Oil Sands

    8 EPCOR Generation Inc.
    9 Petro-Canada
    10 Dofasco Inc


    As far as I understand, Syncrude, Suncor, PetroCanada and Dofasco are not "public utilities".

    To quote an angry fool: "If your going to state facts at least make them correct."

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 11:59 AM  

  • Kyle G,

    I think a number of groups have different approaches. Changing peoples habits or "ethic" is one part of an approach used by BC Hydro PowerSmart programs (including retrofits, replacing old refrigerators etc). It does work over time.

    Here's a humorous anecdote in the G&M from last week:


    Where savings begin

    "When high-school science teacher Ray Janke bought a home in Chicopee, Mass., he decided to see how much he could save on his electric bill," reports The Christian Science Monitor. "He exchanged incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, put switches and surge protectors on his electronic equipment to reduce the 'phantom load' -- the trickle consumption even when electronic equipment is off -- and bought energy-efficient appliances. Two things happened: He saw a two-thirds reduction in his electric bill, and he found himself under audit by Mass Electric. The company thought he'd tampered with his meter. 'They couldn't believe I was using so little,' he says. Mr. Janke had hit on what experts say is perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective place to reduce one's energy consumption: home."

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 12:31 PM  

  • Good article in Saturday's Toronto Star on this very issue (politics of going green):

    "Rising tide
    Does Stéphane Dion's victory at the Liberal leadership convention and the public's growing concern about the environment mean Canada is ready to take on a cleanup crusade?

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 2:22 PM  

  • "I apologize that you don't know the difference between a utility and an industrial source of GHG emissions."

    So Anonymouse Green, what the hell has that got to do with anything. Is GHG from utilities less harmfull than from industry.

    The op stated that ""Since most GHG in Canada come from transportation, the best way to change consumer behaviour that would impact GHGs would be a gasoline tax."

    I've provided stats to PROVE that statement wrong.

    Perhaps if you learned to read...........

    By Blogger Fred Mc, at 4:14 PM  

  • OK, I see your point.

    Nevertheless, your statement was equally incorrect:

    "Most GHG DOESN"T comed from transporation, it comes from public utilities with Ontario Hydro leading the way."

    Had you instead said Large Final Emitters, LFEs, instead of public utilities, your statement would have been closer to being correct, but it is still below 50%.

    Therefore most GHG also does not come from "utilities with Ontario Hydro leading the way".

    If you claim Kyle's statement was "bullshit" how is your's any less so?

    Hypocrisy.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 5:03 PM  

  • I agree with Kyle g. Olseon - environmental concerns, while very real, will wind up somewhere below Sydney Tar Ponds in term of national importance once Canadians find out that becoming a greener country means they can't drive their SUV to the 7=11 to buy a quart of milk. (The Sev by the way is only a five minute walk from Joe Canada's house, but I digress).

    This is an issue du jour that will be quickly forgotten once people clue in that it's gonna have a huge impact on them.

    By Blogger Left Right and Center, at 10:10 AM  

  • Oh yeah - this might interest those who are big supporters of hybrid cars:

    Hybrid Market Unprofitable - Nissan Exec

    By Blogger Left Right and Center, at 10:14 AM  

  • 6 Syncrude Canada Ltd.
    7 Suncor Energy Inc. Oil Sands

    9 Petro-Canada
    10 Dofasco Inc

    I guess no-one in Canada uses oil to heat their homes.

    By Blogger Trainette, at 7:38 PM  

  • I guess no-one in Canada uses oil to heat their homes.

    Some do. Most don't - except in smaller remote areas where there is no natural gas pipeline.

    That is why most people are against using huge volumes of natural gas to produce oil from the oilsands, the most energy intensive oil production in the world - where Syncrude, Suncor and Petro-Canada are active.

    Dofasco is a steel producer.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 8:39 PM  

  • Great! let support green campaign against global warming.

    By Anonymous mauri shoes, at 7:07 AM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:50 PM  

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