It'll be hard caps after all -

It’ll be hard caps after all

Ottawa says it won’t be implementing intensity-based targets on greenhouse gas emissions


Environment Minister Jim Prentice told a parliamentary committee on Thursday his government plans to impose “absolute caps” on carbon emissions and develop a mechanism allowing companies to buy credits from others whose emissions fall under the limits. “We are talking about a cap-and-trade system,” Prentice told the committee, “a continental cap-and-trade system that involves absolute emission reductions.” The move towards “absolute reductions” is a significant departure from the Conservatives’ past insistence on intensity-based targets. Under the previous proposal, emissions would have been allowed to rise at the same rate as overall economic output. (For example, an oil company’s emissions limits could be on a per-barrel basis, meaning the more barrels they produce, the more greenhouse gases they’re allowed to emit.) The change of heart is seemingly motivated by the Obama administration’s desire to put in place a cap and trade system with which intensity-based targets would be incompatible.

Vancouver Sun

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It’ll be hard caps after all

  1. The more important question is whether the credits will be auctioned, or given away as a massive windfall gain to existing polluters. Why is no one talking about this?

    • Good question! Though up until now we've all been talking about whether the Tories would start burning tarsands oil right in the House during Question Period, whipping Ignatieff before transferring him to another country's jail, and what could Tiger possibly have been actually doing. So we've been kinda busy.

    • The corporations have already hijacked the emissions trading talks to suit their own agenda. Take a look at Dupont’s site sometime. They brag about all the energy saving measures they’ve implemented since 1993 (realizing millions of dollars in legitimate energy cost savings) and hint that they should be compensated a second time for said savings by being allowed to sell emissions credits. The clowns who insist on using 1990 as a benchmark year don’t seem to realize just how completely they’re playing into these vultures’ hands.

  2. " a significant departure from the Conservatives' past insistence on intensity-based targets."

    You mean an absolute about-face on their entire position regarding emissions, greenhouse gases and the environment. I wish I could imagine this would mean more than doing the absolute minimum to maintain the Alberta oil industry and access to US markets.

    • You wish that why? Because you don't need a job? Because you feel it is worth sacrificing our economy and shutting down the tar sands so we can be the poster child of the Copenhagen talks? I'm glad you have plans for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who would lose their jobs under such a scenario. It's comforting to know some people have it all figured out.

      And since you mentioned access to US markets, how would giving up access to US markets improve our environment?

      • Moving to a more sustainable economy will create more jobs, not fewer. Why? Because it's hard work.

        Now, will these jobs be the same as they are today? Doubtful. Many a buggy-whip maker had to go out and find new work with the advent of the automobile, but I don't find myself thinking, "We should never have moved forward so all those poor buggy-whip makers wouldn't have had to find other employment."

        • The buggy whip (along with the horse) was replaced by better technology. The government didn't regulate it out of existence first and then scramble to come up with an alternative afterwards. All those tonnes of manure in cities were and environmental crisis, and good ol' technology saved the day. I'm all in favour of more energy efficiency, as I've stated many times in numerous posts. But I favour a brute force method of simply taxing energy consumption (not carbon, but energy), which would force conservation and provide the impetus for new energy saving technologies. If that sounds expensive, it doesn't have to be. It can be completely revenue neutral, balanced off with income tax & corporate tax cuts. No cap, no trade, no subsidies, no "green" programs, just a tax system that gradually tips the balance in favour of energy conservation and punishes excessive consumption.

          • I agree with you that there's room for conservation but fossil fuels are a one shot deal; we need to replace them with sustainable energy technologies. Nobody knows for sure but the consensus is that oil and gas production will crest before 2020. Ideally we should have a concrete plan for phasing out before then instead of just waiting for big oil to gouge us to the bone.

          • It will be a gradual dwindling of supplies, and therefore a gradual phase-out to other energy sources. At some point in the future. We can speed that up a bit by gradually implementing energy conservation incentives that are built into the tax system.

          • I'm not so sure the supply will decline gradually. As we've seen in the past the market doesn't hold much power over oil prices. The demand is so high at the moment that I'm sure traders are going to rise the price of oil the second they hear no new fields has been discovered because they know how quickly we can burn through one.

            If you're saying that conserving is going to help regulate that price, then you're right. But I think proactively investing in alternatives is going to prevent the mass hysteria when oil supply takes the plunge.

        • Heh.

          Who pray tell is going to pay for all these neat new things? Have you priced doing anything that would cut your, oh, heating bill for your house in half? Have you calculated how long it would take you to pay for the upgrades?

          And will the energy involved in manufacture, shipping, installation, disposal and the like of the said upgrade be offset by the potential savings? Remember, with a hard cap, those things will be necessarily priced into any work done.

          Do you know how much more expensive a vehicle, say something you could haul a family, or work out of, a vehicle that uses 50% of the fuel that the current offerings use? Who is going to pay the difference?

          I suppose there is a plan there. How do we increase the GDP? Double the price of everything!


      • Kudos RagingRanter on your entirely appropriate moniker.

        I wish the government had some kind of action plan for the future that does not place all our eggs in one basket. Particularly as those eggs are losing their appeal. The rest of the world may very well close ranks against us for our dirty oil – you know with sanctions and such? How will giving up access to those markets (by dragging our feet on the environment) do anything for jobs here?

        Like it or not, the push is on to move off oil – we would be better served by a govenment with vision that extended beyond the Alberta borders.

  3. I think we need to hit the streets and start protesting against the overlords telling us that CO2 is bad. Its like the CRU hack didn't even happen.

    • God didn't died because the world orbits the sun.

  4. Made-in-Canada solution!

  5. I have always been skeptical of the climate change phenomenon as many things just do not seem to add up. My particular litmus test for scenarios such as those painted by the climate change advocates is “follow the money.”

    In the case of Copenhagen it appears that the money we may be following will be our own and where it will be going appears to be anyone's guess. It is unbelievable that the so-called developed nations are expected to pay for an unknown solution to an unproven problem while so-called developing nations are expecting not to pay. Given that many of these undeveloped nations are hundreds if not thousands of years older than ours why is it our problem alone, if indeed there actually is a problem?

    In light of the recent flood of press regarding how the climate change numbers have been manipulated and that critical data is astoundingly nowhere to be found, I believe Canada needs to take the time necessary to evaluate the information and lack thereof before committing anything to anyone on this issue.

    • Smog is not an unproven problem.

      • Then let's fight smog. But that has almost nothing to do with carbon emissions. If you want to target smog, you target nitrous oxides and sulpher emissions, not carbon.

        • If we cut all carbon emission sources we inevitably cut all smog emission sources as well… and run the risk of avoiding a not yet proven global warming disaster.

          I kinda like win-win situations.

  6. I'm sure they mean that future press releases regarding emissions targets will be in HARD CAPS. Certainly they don't intend to hamstring the western provinces' economies in such a manner, do they?

    • Maybe they meant Hard *Hats*, while visiting oil fields. For safety.

      I'd love to see plans for more sustainable businesses in wind power, solar power, and hydro and discussions of how Canadians could be world leaders in these areas. These are jobs that, regardless of the other debates around climate change, will last longer than removing oil from the ground.

      • Wind is inconsistent and unreliable, and we're maxed out in terms of hydro. Solar is interesting for small scale and portable solutions but on large scale application our northern location makes it impracticable. Our best bet is co-generation burning hemp and pine lignin, using the fiber as material for other applications.

    • I know. It would be a drag if Albertans or Saskatchewaners had to learn to do something other than just scoop up dirt and pump gas.

      • Yah, those stupid unskilled Albertans and Saskatchewanites – digging oil out of the ground. Fools!! They should just ignore the wealth under their feet and get jobs welding windmill parts together, or canvassing door-to-door for Greenpeace.

        I sometimes wonder if the green proponents haven’t taken leave of their senses. Does anyone – anyone – really believe that green tech will replace petroleum as the primary source of energy in the next few decades? Real green tech (real as in realistic) comes in the form of research into how to use fossil fuels more efficiently – not in ignoring fossil fuels altogether. Petroleum is here to stay.

      • Hey Hey Hey Hey!!!!! We can complain about Toronto, Ottaw & the province of Quebec too!!!

      • As of now, and for the foreseeable future, there is a lot of money in doing so. Also, there is a huge amount of advanced technology involved in extracting oil from the tar sands, with more advances to come. In many ways it's a state of the art industry. It's not simply digging in in the dirt as you portray it.

  7. I thought a cap and trade system was what the Conservatives found so offensive in Dion's "Green Shift" plan in the first place. Am I misrepresenting this or is the introduction of this type of system a HUGE flip flop?

    • It's a huge flip-flop of the most sickening kind. They don't believe in the policy themselves, but they're going along with it because it is currently the easy, popular thing to do. Much like "stimulus". They were talking about attempting to keep the budget balanced and ignoring economists screeching for stimulus until the Opposition forced their hand. Now they don't hesitate to tell us how the stimulus is lifting us out of recession, even though they know this is crap. But again, they're embracing the prevailing orthodoxy because it's easier that way.

  8. I am with JimD on this. What is it going to take for our politicians to listen to us. Are they wanting a civil war! If they keep this up that may be what happens. Settle the science firmly, then propose action. Going ahead with cap and trade is a fool hardy way to rec our economy for no gain.

  9. Gonna wait to see some actual legislation before celebrating…

    I still don't see why Conservatives prefer cap-and-trade to a carbon tax (besides to stay consistent with their vilification of Dion's Green Shift) – it involves more government interference with the market (they set the number of credits, often who gets them), increased potential for corruption (either directly or through lobbying efforts), and causes extra inefficiencies in business as each company now has to spend man-hours dealing with their caps. Compared to a carbon tax, it means bigger government – which I always thought was against the basic right-wing ideology (and in this case, I agree with that ideology!)

    But, I suppose if the US is going that route (equally confusing, given their greater distrust of government interference), it's best that we do as well. We'll see if anything meaningful comes up during Copenhagen I suppose…

    • Because taxes is teh evul! And if you're thinking harder than that, you're probably not Conservative enough.

      • I'm plenty conservative and I favour energy taxes.

        • Big C Conservatives are the ones I don't understand here, not small c.

  10. I think in the back rooms they see Obama fudging this into the grave so they want to hop onto the disintegrating wagon and claim political moral victory while the intellectual stink sinks the whole enterprise … Arhennius>Revelle>Gore and its political master, Maurice Strong.

  11. So basically what we the people are paying for is a shift in which big corporations our money goes to. It's going to make business less efficient by shifting that money to less efficient companies, thus we are the ones paying for it. Let me reiterate the lack of facts that is prominent in the news as of late; there is no proof global warming exists, doesn't exist, is manmade, or not, because the ways that we have collected data so far were not meant to study the effects of people on the weather, just to know the weather. We also don't even come close to understanding the relationships these ignorant people think they have all figured out, on both sides. At least it will make all the self-obsessed self-loathing people out there feel better about themselves, that they're not only making all the changes, but they're doing it for the better. Awwww, it's a sweet sentiment, but I have a kid to raise This earth may not be here for her tomorrow regardless of what we do, so tax someone else, she needs food now, and no one taught me to hunt with a spear either, that's why we still have Hummers and iPods.

    • I think you're confusing "profitable" with "efficient". The two are not the same.

      It's entirely possible to be profitable without being efficient if you externalize a lot of the real costs of your product. For instance, one could make the case that energy companies and you and I are externalizing the costs of our energy use by putting pollution into the atmosphere, which later the public has to pick up the tab for. If proper costs were imposed that reflected the costs of the cleanup, that would spur the development of technology use less energy.. aka, be more efficient.

      Efficient is wasting less.
      The green movement is about wasting less.

      Saying that the green movement will direct funds to companies that are less efficient is garbage. It will direct funds to companies that do not make their efficiencies by externalizing their waste for the rest of us to deal with.

  12. What people need to realize is that if someone can't make money doing something, it's because not enough people are willing to pay for it. If the green movement is such a vast majority, then why does the government need to interfere? why aren't the middle class doing something about this! Oh wait, that's right, because few of them are actually willing to pay for all this green thinking directly, and they're not gonna change their lifestyles. Sure there are people who independently lower their emissions because they believe, and that's the way it should go. This is a belief people, it's bad enough religions get tax exemptions. We need to wake up and realize that these people who are pushing false information are using the same techniques as the massive companies most greenies despise. continued… too long of a rant