Back­ing Paris cli­mate ac­cord has left Canada badly be­hind

Calgary Herald - - FINANCIAL POST - DIANE FRAN­CIS

The in­con­ve­nient truth about the Ky­oto-paris Agree­ment on cli­mate change is that the 1997 deal has been a ma­jor flop be­cause it was flawed from the be­gin­ning.

It should be scrapped and com­pletely over­hauled and Canada’s Lib­er­als should have re­al­ized this be­fore they em­barked on their ru­inous at­tack against the coun­try’s re­source base.

The fail­ure of the agree­ment, ev­i­denced by emissions that are climb­ing alarm­ingly fast, re­veal how the Trudeau govern­ment’s holier-than-thou ap­proach on cli­mate change is naive and com­pletely mis­guided.

The facts are that Canada should have been build­ing lots of pipe­lines, ap­prov­ing many LNG ex­port projects, and lead­ing an in­ter­na­tional move­ment to scrap and try to redo the Paris agree­ment.

The agree­ment has been dra­mat­i­cally coun­ter­pro­duc­tive be­cause tar­gets were not ap­plied equally and glob­ally.

Of the 192 coun­tries that signed on in 1997, only the 37 de­vel­oped coun­tries had to agree to re­duce emissions.

The un­de­vel­oped na­tions — no­tably China and In­dia — had no re­stric­tions placed on them.

They ar­gued that re­stric­tions on emissions would hold back their eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

That’s fine, but tar­gets should have been phased in and ap­plied to all coun­tries.

This ben­e­fit should not have been per­ma­nently baked in.

The re­sult was pre­dictable and noted by the Amer­i­cans, Cana­di­ans and Aus­tralians at the time.

To­day, the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries’ emissions have soared, which has al­lowed them to keep their costs low based on the burn­ing of cheap lo­cal coal as their prin­ci­pal en­ergy source.

Nat­u­rally, this patch­work quilt of reg­u­la­tion has re­sulted in a gi­gan­tic global ar­bi­trage — com­pa­nies from coun­tries with re­stric­tions — have moved plants or out­sourced en­ergy-in­ten­sive prod­ucts such as steel and ce­ment to en­vi­ron­men­tally dirty na­tions.

For in­stance, Canada’s im­ports of steel jumped be­tween 2018 and 2019 alone by 87 per cent, bought, di­rectly or in­di­rectly, from coun­tries not bound by the Ky­oto-paris Agree­ment.

Ger­many and the United States have done the same.

“Since 1997, the 37 de­vel­oped coun­tries have re­duced CO2 emissions by about seven per cent, while ex­empted coun­try emissions rose 130 per cent.

And over­all global emissions hit a new record in 2018, up two per cent year over year and up 49 per cent since 1997,” ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures con­tained in a re­port by for­mer Cana­dian in­vest­ment bankers who are now in­vestors, Steve Larke and Adam Le Dain.

“Driven by good in­ten­tions and ac­cel­er­at­ing en­ergy de­mand, the world is fac­ing an un­in­tended en­ergy cri­sis.”

Coun­ter­in­tu­itively, Canada must pri­or­i­tize the build­ing of pipe­lines to ex­port its oil, with rel­a­tively low emissions, and to build nat­u­ral gas pipe­lines and dozens of LNG projects on both coasts.

This is be­cause ev­ery sin­gle en­ergy mol­e­cule that is ex­ported from Canada to Asia or else­where re­places their need to burn dirty coal, or to fuel their ve­hi­cles with elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated by coal. (This was a plat­form in the Tory en­ergy pol­icy this elec­tion, plus con­ser­va­tion sub­si­dies for con­sumers.)

Canada’s fool­ish be­lief in an in­ter­na­tional treaty that doesn’t work has left us badly be­hind.

The Amer­i­cans have dozens of LNG ex­port projects com­pleted or un­der con­struc­tion and Canada, with one of the big­gest nat­u­ral gas en­dow­ments on the planet, has been un­able to get one built — thanks to the usual sus­pects in Ot­tawa, Bri­tish Columbia and Que­bec.

The coun­try could be a ma­jor player in LNG ex­ports but time is run­ning out as Aus­tralia and Qatar also move ag­gres­sively to compete.

In­stead, Trudeau crip­ples Al­berta, sub­si­dizes prof­itable Loblaw to buy lower-emis­sion re­frig­er­a­tors and cam­paigns across the coun­try about cli­mate change in two fuel-guz­zling air­craft and does noth­ing to curb de­mand at home by con­sumers.

The in­con­ve­nient truth is that for ev­ery pipe­line and well and LNG plant that is not built in Canada, the Chi­nese and In­di­ans will sim­ply burn more dirty coal.

The Lib­er­als and Greens in Canada are not the so­lu­tion.

They are the prob­lem.

Canada should have been ... lead­ing an in­ter­na­tional move­ment to scrap and try to redo the Paris agree­ment.

DESHAKALYA­N CHOWD­HURY/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES FILES

Diane Fran­cis says the Paris cli­mate agree­ment placed no re­stric­tions on un­de­vel­oped na­tions such as In­dia. For ev­ery pipe­line, well and LNG plant that is not built in Canada, she says de­vel­op­ing coun­tries will sim­ply burn more dirty coal.

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