THE BIG GRAB Part 1: Knock, knock. The low-carbon future is here

As ordinary Canadians dig deep to ease their carbon footprint, Alberta's oil-sands pollution wipes out their sacrifice.

(Page 3 of 3)

The U.K. has cut emissions by 19 per cent since 1990. The British government says that green energy is cheaper than fossil for the U.K. at the point when oil reaches $100 per barrel.

The 41 Annex-1 nations under the Kyoto Protocol have collectively cut emissions by 10 per cent since 1990. And the European Union is on track to cut emissions 25 per cent by 2020. A recent study showed that even increasing the target to 30 per cent would boost the EU's GDP and create millions more jobs.

“The longer we wait, the higher the cost will be ... As oil prices keep rising, Europe is paying more every year for its energy bill and becoming more vulnerable to price shocks. So starting the transition now will pay off.”
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard

Even Australia, the only one of the 17 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations to be trailing Canada in low-carbon prosperity efforts, has a prime minister promising an economy-wide carbon tax starting next year as a transition measure until a full cap-and-trade system can be set up. That nation is reeling from a summer of extreme weather damages.

“Today, we must embrace another moment of decision for the future of our nation: a decision to cut carbon pollution and build a clean energy economy for the 21st century … No opinion poll can change the fact that climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. And we must cut carbon pollution ... In a nation rich in fossil fuels, I wish it were not so. But it is … I will not trifle with our nation's future. We cannot afford to be stranded with an outdated high-emissions economy … None of this means we have to lead the world, and we have not. At the same time, we cannot afford to be left behind, yet we are. While Australia delays, our peers and competitors are on the move … We're going to have to work hard if we don't want to be left behind.”

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard 

While not always in a straight line, the lower-carbon reality is marching inexorably forward. The threat to Canadians’ future prosperity is very real if the country continues to fall ever farther behind.

As the rest of the Big Grab series will detail, the efforts by most of Canada to prepare for the lower-carbon future are being crushed by the actions of one industry in particular: Alberta’s oil sands.

NEXT UP:

Elbows out, hogging the pie digs into data from Environment Canada, industry and other sources to show just how big a grab the oil sands are planning to make on other Canadians' fair share of the country's carbon pie … and what that means for the rest of us. (more...)  


NOTES AND LINKS

note 1: USA oil import stats: 9.7MMbd * 365 = 3,540MMby * $90 = $319b / 311m people = $1,024 per person.  http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/foreign_oil_dependence.cfm

note 2: Coal electricity produces around one tCO2 per MWh (carma.org). A $50 /tCO2 carbon tax would therefore add 5 cents per kWh. Estimates in studies cited above were in the 5 to 25 cents per kWh range for added coal costs which translate to roughly $50-$250/tCO2

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