Sunday, January 21, 2007


For 9 years, after signing on to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the Liberal Governments of Jean Chretien and then Paul Martin, did nothing. Between 2008 and 2012, Canada was supposed to have reduced our Co2 emission to 6% below 1990 levels. Instead, our cCo2 emissions have risen some 24% above 1990 level.

Any way you look at that, its a miserable failure.

During that time, the Federal Government has subsidized the oil and gas industry by about $1.4 billion per year (currently) in tax breaks and totaling some $8 billion between 1990 and 2003. The Sierra Club indicates that between 1997 and October 2005, the Federal Government - the Liberals - spent $2 on oil and gas subsidies for every $1 on reaching its Kyoto targets. According to the Pembina Institute, the Tar Sands are expected to contribute 47% of our industrial greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2020, yet receive massive subsidies and tax breaks from the Federal Government. The entire industry's emission rose 49% from 1990 to 2004. Emissions from generation of electricity and heat rose 37%.

All of these factors mean that Ontario and Alberta ore the biggest greenhouse gas and CO2 producing provinces.

All of this under the Liberal's watch.

But the blame does not stop there. The Conservatives did nothing during that time to attempt to hold the government's feet to the fire on the issue, even though they were the Official Opposition for most of that time. The never raised it as an issue in the House or during an election. In fact, they fought against the little the Liberals did do, for fear it would hurt "industry" and "business". They have never believed climate change was real and have fought against it at every turn. The Liberals did nothing, and the Conservatives - in their every Reform-Alliance-PC form - happily let them, active accomplices to increasing our emissions.

And since taking government, what have the conservatives done? Hyped a "Made in Canada" approach that they dragged out for nearly 8 months. All the while, they cut the few Liberal programs, like Energuide, that were doing some good. They continued to deny that global warming was happening. Their final "plan" was to consult with "industry" (see above) and cut greenhouse gases by 50% by 2050 - not-so-ironically the same time that the oil in Conservative Alberta runs out. Reducing by 50% in 50 years at a time when emission are expected to double by 2020 (again, see above).

Suddenly now, after Christmas, we are supposed to believe the Conservatives are the ones who are going to do something about global warming and our greenhouse gas emissions? After appointing the man responsible for killing and environmentally-friendly public transit project not 2 months ago for partisan political purposes (see my previous Baird post)? By announcing another round of money for "research" into things like "clean coal" (no such thing) or wind farming (owned by Transalta, ironically) - funds which are just another corporate welfare subsidy by Nanny State Conservatives?

Smug Conservatives and supporters, read the title of this post. You are not the solution. You are an accessory and an accomplice to the problem. The Liberals record is abysmal, yours is worse.


You want real environmental plans and policies? Check out The Green Party or the NDP Envrinmental Platform. Both of these parties have a solid history of support and action on the environment and global warming, unlike the Liberals and Conservatives.

Listen to guys like Zorph and his great ideas. Take action yourself.

But don't ever - EVER - start off by saying "Yeah but, the Liberals did nothing for 13 years..." Neither did the Conservatives - in fact they helped the Liberals do nothing, so STFU.

Now, stop talking and passing blame on the problem, DO something.


For an example of what to actually DO, see what Dazz is doing over at the BPOC. He is analyzing the NDP environmental plans. I don't agree with everything he says, but he is being thoughtful, honest and doing a great job. I hope he looks at the Green Party policies and uses this as an opportunity to come up with alternatives that all sides can support and can work

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At 12:09 AM, Blogger Candace said...

At the risk of getting my head bitten off, I would like to point out that many of the "green" programs were cancelled due to perceived inefficiences. If they have been resurrected and rebranded, I can only hope that the inefficiencies have been addressed (i.e. tax credits are relatively easy to administer, vs. the EnerGuide program requiring applications, reviews, etc.). If said hope is misplaced, well, um...

As for the oilsands, please pay attention to the uptick in production as well. Emissions per barrel have dropped significantly.

So park the SUV (if you have one) and buy a SmartCar or something similar or, better yet, take transit (she ducks).

At 1:17 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Yeaaaaaaaaah but.... I am a conservative who HAS been doing things for years even before Kyoto, including the ones Zorph suggests. My worry is that we are going to concentrate so much on GHG reduction and forget about the rest of the problems that are poluting our country. We need a balanced approach to our enviroment. As well, we cannot as a country, spend all our time on one issue either. Which is what I have seen now for the past month, Kyoto all the time...

At 2:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

[insert standing ovation for Mike here]

At 3:46 AM, Blogger Morgan said...

Wonderful post Mike. Way to bring 150 years of Liberal and Conservative duplicity on most issues into a microcosm of the last 13 and the environment!

But I have to ask WTF has the Green Party ever done that could qualify as a "solid history of action on the environment and global warming?"

The Green Party have never held a seat in a provincial, territorial or federal parliament. Beyond that their previous leader was obnoxious enough to suggest that voluntary standards would be enough to get industry to do the right thing. Their current leader is a pro-life liberal (from a idealogical perspective) twit.. but that's another topic. The Greens simply have no record. Even the few Green Councillors I know of either joined the NDP before doing anything useful or did nothing at all.

Meanwhile, Stephane Dion wants the Greens in the debate.. it would be confusing except this poli. sci. prof of a future Prime Minister understands what many Green Party supports don't. What's good for the Greens is good for the Liberal Party.

The Green Party effectively supports the Liberals. Let me explain again. They effectively support the inaction of the last 15 years.

It is a zero-sum game. Green Party supporters are most likely to vote NDP after the Green Party in every province but Alberta and Quebec (where voting NDP is as much of a statistical anomaly as voting Green in the rest of the country). Therefore, if the Liberals & Conservatives ain't doing nothing right, and voting for the Greens isn't electing anyone the simple answer is: vote NDP. This isn't Australia, your vote doesn't get counted twice and it's not Germany you don't get two votes our upper house is unelected.

But, Green supporters argue if it is a zero sum game we should vote Liberal to get rid of these nasty Conservatives. You make the obvious first point, the Liberals will do nothing more on the environment if they are re-elected. The second point is, unlike the Green Party, the NDP wins seats. Lot's of them.

The Greens "solid history of support .. on .. global warming" is an accurate typo. Voting Green really does support Global Warming.

Vote NDP. Don't believe the Green hype machine (Mr. Stephane Dion).

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Steve V said...

People who use the "inefficient" meme with regard to the Energuide drink the conservative koolaid. The auditor general found the program to be effective, in fact it went beyond projections. While 50% of the initial cost went to administration, this fact is less relevant when you factor in the savings over subsequent years- in other words, this is a one time administrative cost that pays dividends year after year.

If the Conservatives believed the program was flawed, then why not improve it, instead of just slashing with no thought. Today, we prepare to see the "new and improved" program, which is a testament to its inherent merits. We have lost precious time, and the irony, re-introduction will cost money, which speaks to "efficiency".

I see the Energuide fiasco as the most striking example of the Tory incompetence, and the "13 years of nothing" hypocrisy. STFU indeed!

BTW, next time an apologist mentions 13 years, ask them to recite the Tory program that was developed over those years. The NDP had a program, the Greens had a program, the Liberals finally developed one in 2005, all the pathetic Tories had was "we don't like Kyoto". Shameful!

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Mike said...


I would agree with you if the Cons had, as Steve V alludes to, merely fixed the program or adjusted it in some way. They didn't, they canceled it entirely. They are only now bringing it back because they think that by re branding it and looking like they are doing something about the environment they can get their "majority" (then gawd help us all...). I'm glad to hear that the tar sands are getting more efficient, but that does not change the fact that they are going to be the largest producers. Tim Flannery, author of "The Weather Makers" said in an interview on TVO a few months back that if the tar sands are taken out of the equation, Canada is actually doing pretty good in regard to GHG.

I think we need some creative ideas on how to maintain that economic powerhouse going and still be green, rather than simply denying the problem exists simply because admitting it eats into profits.


This is not directed at guys like you, but rather at those who begin every post with "yeah but the Liberals..."

Kyoto is a target that can be strived for, rather than an end all. And I think Kyoto is a start because those things that help with Kyoto have the benefit of helping with smog, air and water pollution.


I appreciate the partisanship in your comment, but come on. the very raison d'etre of the Green Party is the environment. It is irrelevant whether they have elected members - they have developed policies, ideas and actions. Many of their members have participated in other NGO environmental organizations like Greepeace and the Sierra Club. That is their track record. The NDP's track record is only better because we have elected MPs, MLAs, MPPs and occasionally formed governments? No, our platform is good, but so is the Greens. At least these two parties have a plan. And I would not be upset if some of those Green Party policies became law.

Again, as Steve has pointed out, the Greens and the NDP have always had plans, policies and platforms in this area. The Liberals came along quite late and their record speaks for itself. And even in these days of a seeming "conversion" there is not a word about the environment in the "5 Priorities", on the Conservative website. They have, nor never have had, anything resembling an policy. Which is why they are rebranding the old Liberal policies, now that it is politically expedient to do so. That was the point. I won't slag the Greens on this one...

At 1:18 PM, Blogger leftdog said...

It's about time someone walked up to the Liberals and the Conservatives and said, 'GOTTCHA'!!!!!!

At 6:59 PM, Blogger bigcitylib said...

Of course the NDP has never formed a federal gov. and has no record to defend.

My experience of provincial NDP govs. (in B.C.) is that they are only marginally more environmentally friendly than the other kinds. Not in regards to Kyoto, obviously, but I think the B.C. sports fishery is still in crappy shape because of over-fishing on the part of commercial fishermen from Union towns. No?

Sorry if this appears twice. I thought I'd posted a similar message earlier.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Stephen Gordon,

Correlation != Causation. You are inferring and inverse relationship that may not exist.

Besides, when Kyoto was signed and ratified, it was possible. Can't make it by 2012? How about 2014? 2015? Besides, nothing in my post advocates Kyoto deadline as gospel, only the emissions targets. Right now its the only game in town and we should still try. Kyoto may be unreachable (and I don't believe that quite yet), but that does not mean we don't try anything. My main point that if it is unreachable, it is because of the dance of inaction from the both the Libs and Conservatives since 1997 and perhaps they aren't now the best ones to trust with doing our part to help fix the climate (and sure as hell should not be painting themselves as our saviors and painting the other alone as the bad guys). So far, I have seen nothing from them to meet any targets, besides the ridiculous 50% by 2050, based on intensity targets rather than actual emissions.


Given the Liberal performance, "no record" is still better than theirs - signing and ratifying a treaty and then going 24% in the wrong direction.


Again, my point was not just to point out that the Liberals dropped the ball, but to silence the "yeah but the Liberals" Conservative crowd, since they were - and are - not innocent and indeed are even worse culprits.

There are lots of good ideas out there for helping strive for our Kyoto goals from all sides. No one is perfect, though some are much better than others.

I propose we actually do something about it, rather than listen to the partisan battles over who's fault it is.

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Mike said...


Well I'm certain there will be those who use your post to say just that.

But as for reality-based policy, I still have my issues with your premise. Yes, there appears to be a correlation between economic growth and GHG emissions. That does not mean that one causes the other or that the inverse relationship - that to reduce GHG we must reduce drastically economic activity - is true. But that is the premise your entire post ans assertions rests upon.

I suspect (though admittedly cannot yet prove) that entrepreneurs and technology will surprise you. I think there is tremendous economic opportunity in this (I am not sure how to measure it, though). This has been my experience, since my job - web application developer - did not exist 15 years ago and now is a major industry generating billions each year. In 1993 there was no such thing and it generated no economic activity.

But lets take your analysis one step further - what year would we achieve Kyoto targets given a reasonable rate of reduction if not 2012?

I'd be willing to bet its not 2050...

At 3:31 AM, Blogger wilson said...

My how things have changed since 2004:
""Environmentalists would like to make Kyoto an election issue, but so far that hasn't materialized.
According to a CBC poll conducted prior to the election call,
only TWO PERCENT of those asked said the environment was the most important issue facing Canadians.""

As of 2004 Canada's emissions had risen by 27 per cent over its 1990 level, and only 2% of Cdns figured it was a burning issue.
Why? No media hype because it was a Liberal failure.

So now it is on the Conservative plate. All opposition parties, including the Media Party of Canada, are on the attack.
The NDP is sincere in wanting the Cons to get something done, the rest, well the last thing they want is Conservative success on the enviro file.
The Conservative 's Clean Air Act (which they have been working on since 2004) was the first ever legislated mandatory GHG targets. First mandatory target date for industry was 2010.
But of course, it isn't good enough, even tho it replaced NO existing legislation, because it didn't worship Kyoto (a piece of paper, not a plan).
Along with the CAA, Cons bring in 'toxic' plans, transportation credits, improved programs Libs had initiated...not good enough.

What is scary is the thought of an environmentalist running the country. Otherwise Jack would have been the Prime Minister and May wouldn't have to beg for a seat in the debates.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Mike said...

"Think of what would have to be done: replacing existing machines with ones that produced fewer GGEs."

See, there is, I think another flaw in your premise. You talk of total replacement when there are existing technologies that can retro-fit existing machines to reduce CO2 emissions - no replacement needed. There is technology that can remove industrial emissions and store it for injections back into the earth. Running a diesel engine on vegetable oil can happen right now, with no changes to the vehicle. One merely needs the infrastructure...

Your premise also disregards the idea of conservation. If we use less electricity, drive less, use alternatives we can reduce the emissions of some of the biggest producers (Nanikoke for instance).

Ironically, you post can be used to argue for emissions credit trading, in order to buy us time to make our targets.


Another cut-and-paste job?

The NDP and the Greens have ALWAYS tried to make the environment and Kyoto issues. Remember back during May 2005, when Harper was screaming at every opportunity about "corruption!" - the big joke in the blogshpere and the media was "and then Jack Layton asks a question about the environment". Because they did.

That they were ignored by the Liberals and the Conservatives is irrelevant now.

If it was a "Liberal failure" why didn't the Conservatives raise this during that election? Because they didn't believe in Global Warming, didn't want even the smallest Liberals steps toward Kyoto to succeed. To them a "Liberal failure" was a Conservative success. Emissions rising by 27% was okay by them.

If they have been working on this since 2004, why did it take over 8 months for it to see the light of day after the election? BS wislon, it never existed. Rona and Steve made it up as they went.

"was the first ever legislated mandatory GHG targets. First mandatory target date for industry was 2010. "

Intensity Based targets meaning that GHG production would actually increase. So a company could actually emit MORE GHG than they do now (not less) as long as their per unit intensity was lower. Reducing by 50% by 2050?

No wilson, the scary thought is that we have, yet again, a party running this country that says its for the environment, yet acts the exact opposite. Gutting the few decent programs (like Energuide) and replacing them with similar but less effective and less accountable alternatives is not a plan. Giving more subsidies and tax breaks to the biggest polluters under the guise of "research" is not a plan.

You know damn well that if Bob Rae or Ignatieff had been elected Liberal leader, there would have been no Conservative green conversion. This is about politics and vying for their "majority". You know damn well that if a few recent polls didn't show the environment as #1 issue with Canadians, there would be no green conversion.

The Cons are as bad or worse than the Liberals and are still trying to have it both ways - to look like they are doing something to win votes, when really they aren't - just like the Liberals.

wilson, read the title of this post.

At 4:46 PM, Blogger hooligan said...


Good post, especially the part about the Conservatives not holding Liberal feet to the fire while in opposition. I have to admit that was not something I had considered before. And I must agree that all the back-and-forth bitching is leading us exactly nowhere. STFU, indeed. Well said.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Day-um, that's some good blogging.


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