Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge

Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge

Jeffrey Simpson

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0771080972

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Here’s a clear, believable book for Canadians concerned about our situation — and it offers a solution.

It’s a brilliant mix. To “Canada’s best mind on the environment,” Mark Jaccard, who won the 2006 Donner Prize for an academic book in this area, you add Nic Rivers, a researcher who works with him at Simon Fraser University. Then you add Jeffrey Simpson, the highly respected Globe and Mail columnist, to punch the message home in a clear, hard-hitting way. The result is a unique book.

Most other books on energy and climate change are: (a) terrifying or (b) academic or (c) quirky, advocating a single, neat solution like solar or wind power.

This book is different. It starts with an alarming description of the climate threat to our country. Then it shifts to an alarming description of how Canadians have been betrayed by their politicians (“We’re working on it!”), their industrialists (“Things aren’t that bad, really, and voluntary guidelines will be good enough.”), and even their environmentalists (“Energy efficiency can be profitable, and people can change their lifestyles!”) All of this, of course, reinforces the myths that forceful policies are not needed.

Hot Air then lays out in convincing and easily understandable terms the few simple policies that Canada must adopt right away in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades. It even shows how these policies can be designed to have minimal negative effects.

With evidence from other countries that are successfully addressing climate change, Hot Air shows why these are the only policies that will work — and why this is a matter of life and death for all of us.

From the Hardcover edition.
















Why did the Chinese respond as they did to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997? Prior to Kyoto, the Chinese had insisted, along with many other developing countries, that climate change was the fault of the wealthy industrialized countries. They should solve the problem they were creating, and at their own expense. China therefore refused to commit to any GHG reductions. Once Kyoto was signed, however, China acted differently, while still insisting it was under no international obligation to do anything. China removed subsidies for the coal industry, established mandates for renewable electricity generation, created a state-owned company to finance research into carbon capture and storage for coal-bed methane production, tightened energy efficiency standards, and tightened vehicle efficiency requirements.

Bush used it, among others, to justify why he refused to seek ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and Australia under Prime Minister John Howard followed in Bush’s footsteps. The absence of China and India from Kyoto made that position more compelling, until you look at the issue from their perspective. GHG reduction requires those countries and industries that move first to accept higher initial costs and to introduce slightly more risky technologies. The poor people of the planet have limited access to the energy services enjoyed in richer countries.

A successful election campaign that featured only passing references to climate change seemed to vindicate their assumptions. That approach is what they had convinced themselves was better policy while in opposition, and that is what they believed for some months after forming the government. But to their consternation and surprise, the issue of climate change, which they had belittled as a policy and political priority, suddenly stirred up a storm. In 2006, they found that the Canadian government could not, as Harper had promised, “tear up Kyoto” and wait for the science to become clear, for enough people were aware that the scientific evidence was by now irrefutable.

Suddenly, in late 2006, editorial boards, columnists, reporters, and editors could not display their interest in the environment fast enough. Academics who had laboured in obscurity were suddenly in demand for analysis and commentary. Whereas the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had drawn only a handful of reporters, the fourth report, in February 2007, attracted a standing-room-only crowd of reporters to a large room in central Ottawa. The environment had experienced blips of public concern before – over the ozone layer or water quality, for example – but these blips never built any momentum to make the environment in general, or climate change in particular, a top-of-mind issue.

Special issue on hybrid modelling of energy-environment policies. Canada, 2005, “Project Green: Moving Forward on Climate Change: A Plan for Honouring our Kyoto Commitment,” Ottawa: Government of Canada. Canada, 2007, “Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions,” Ottawa: Government of Canada. Dion, S. , 2006, “Building a sustainable future for Canada: Stéphane Dion’s energy and climate change plan,” Stéphane Dion Campaign. Jaccard, M. , N. Rivers, C. Bataille, R. Murphy, J. Nyboer, and B. Sadownik, 2006, “Burning our money to warm the planet: Canada’s ineffective efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” CD Howe Institute Commentary, 234.

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