Earth Day, April 22, 2019
AN OPEN LETTER to OUR FELLOW CANADIANS
We, past and present Canada’s Clean50 Award winners, represent a wide cross section of Canadians from business, science, government and academia. We are very concerned that some Canadians and politicians alike have failed to recognize both the tremendous economic opportunity in decisively addressing the increasingly urgent climate crisis, and the looming threat to our shared future, should we continue to ignore it. We are asking all Canadians to make climate their very top priority in upcoming elections.
Taking immediate action to limit climate change, and mitigate its impacts on Canada, needs to be considered an emergency at every level of government. A recent study by the Federal Government shows that Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as expected1. The best time to act is now. We simply cannot afford to postpone a response any longer.
Some individuals will try to claim that Canada is not the problem – that the problem is China or India or the USA. Unfortunately, that is simply not true.
Countries don’t cause carbon pollution: People do! Canadians may be surprised to learn that on a per-person basis, we Canadians are the worst offenders in the G72. Canadians, on average, produce 2.5 times more carbon pollution per person than do the Chinese, 9 times more than do Indians, and 5% more than Americans2. We are two to three times worse than the Japanese, the English, the French, and the Germans2. We simply cannot reasonably expect other countries to take meaningful action to reduce their country’s emissions, when our emissions are actually rising3.
Others will claim that present warming trends are part of a “natural cycle”. Science clearly tells us that is not true, that in fact temperatures should actually have been decreasing each century over the past 6,000 years4. Instead, temperatures have risen steadily, and the 5 hottest years ever recorded have been the last 5 years5. Climate change is real – and by both burning too many carbon based fuels – and cutting down the trees needed to absorb that carbon, humans are responsible6.
Some politicians claim that “Carbon Taxes Kill Jobs” or that they don’t work. Neither claim is true. Leading economists around the world agree7: Charging polluters is the very best way to cut emissions. Overwhelming evidence shows that taxing GHGs leads to reductions in GHGs and spurs investment in infrastructure, new technologies and building renovations by companies and individuals. Growth that creates companies, and more jobs – not fewer – while improving the environment. 8
Leading the fight against carbon pollution offers Canadians the chance to share in a massive $30 trillion market opportunity by 20309. That’s 18 times Canada’s entire present GDP10. As current leaders in the clean tech industry, Canada is well positioned to continue growing with this market. Over 280,000 Canadian workers are already employed in “green economy” jobs11, and Canada ranked third on a recent list, with 12 of the top 100 clean tech companies in the world 12. Charging pollution taxes will only increase the number of Canadian companies creating clean tech solutions and jobs. And while we know many of our industries are declining, jobs in the “green economy” continue to grow, and at $94,000, pay 48% better than the average Canadian job13.
When deciding who will earn your votes, now and in years to come, we urge you to vote only for candidates who have a credible plan to cut carbon emissions.
We ask you to demand that our leaders seize this opportunity to ensure we both slow down climate change, and build the most prosperous, lowest carbon future we can give to ourselves and our children: An economy that will offer Canadians a healthy environment, and growth and prosperity for years to come.
- The Government of Canada’s research by environmental scientists has determined that temperatures in Canada are not only rising due to climate change – they are doing so twice as fast as the global average. The news release and report can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2019/04/canadas-climate-is-warming-twice-as-fast-as-global-average.html
- These figures are obtained and calculated using the last numbers universally available from countries reporting to the United Nations, found in this Wikipedia article, based on 2013.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capitaFor added interest, As Alberta is now considering raising its cap on GHG emissions, it’s interesting to note that if Alberta were a country, at 68.5 tonnes per person in 2013, it would have the worst emissions per capita in the world, 26% worse than #1 Kuwait.In the spreadsheet below, countries marked with * are part of the G7.The numbers used are as follows: (GHG measured in metric tonnes per person)
Country GHG / capita, 2013 Canada compare multiplier Canada as compared to other nations is Alberta compare Multiplier Kuwait 54.41 0.38 1.26 Australia 25.06 0.84 2.73 Canada* 20.94 1.00 3.27 USA* 19.90 1.05 5% worse 3.44 Saudi 18.26 1.15 3.75 Russia 15.31 1.37 4.47 Germany* 11.00 1.90 Nearly twice as bad 6.23 Japan* 10.55 1.98 Twice as bad 6.49 China 8.49 2.47 Two and a half times worse 8.07 UK* 8.45 2.48 Two and a half times worse 8.11 Italy* 7.05 2.97 Three times worse 9.72 France* 6.90 3.03 Three times worse 9.93 Spain 6.57 3.19 10.43 WORLD 6.27 3.34 10.93 India 2.28 9.18 NINE times worse! 30.04 ALBERTA 68.50 1
Using 2016 census numbers and reported GHG numbers, both from StatsCan, in 2016 Saskatchewan totaled 67 tonnes per person, edging out Alberta at 66. In contrast, Ontario’s emissions were 12.4 tonnes per person. It’s important to note that these numbers are based on GHGs produced in the province. i.e. GHGs for gasoline and natural gas used in Ontario is measured in Ontario – not from where it originated.
Those numbers above include all emissions within the province. Using only household emissions (smaller percentage of totals than agriculture or manufacturing or mining for example) the average
“personal” emissions in Ontario were 3.85 tonnes / person, and in Alberta 4.55 tonnes per person. Saskatchewan, with its extensive use of coal for energy, and refusing to import clean hydropower from Manitoba tops out at 5.64 tonnes per person.
Readers may also be interested in a report from Ivey at Western University. https://www.ivey.uwo.ca/cmsmedia/2112500/4462-ghg-emissions-report-v03f.pdf
- Canada’s GHG emissions are rising: The Government of Canada reports here https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/climate-change/greenhouse-gas-emissions/sources-sinks-executive-summary-2019.html that total GHG emissions in Canada increased from 710 Megatonnes in 2016 to 716 MT in 2017, the latest year for which Canadian totals are available.
- Global temperatures should actually have been decreasing each century over the past 6,000 years: The usual long-term cycles of warming and cooling of the earth are caused by a number of factors related to wobbles in the earth’s axis angle to the sun, and wobbles in the earth’s orbit itself, and the shape of the orbit. In a nutshell, all three of these things and other variables change in fairly predictable VERY long cycles lasting 10s of 1000s of years, with minute, indistinguishable adjustments year to year, and century to century. These are referred to as the Milankovitch cycles (named after the scientist who first predicted them) and described in more detail here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles Basically, our current place in the combined cycles means that the earth should have gradually been cooling for the past 6,000 years and keep cooling for the next 29,000 years before very gradually warming up again.
- Instead of cooling, since our industrial activity intensified in the mid 18th century, temperatures are rising. And the last 5 are the warmest 5 years ever on record. https://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/the-10-hottest-global-years-on-recordThe gradual and persistent increase in global temperatures is due to increasing levels of greenhouse gasses – GHGs – of which carbon dioxide is the most prevalent. In pre-industrial times, CO2 was approximately 250 particles per million (ppm) in the atmosphere and never above 280 PPM. As of the past few years, CO2 levels have climbed past 400 ppm. https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/24/graphic-the-relentless-rise-of-carbon-dioxide/
- Deforestation contributes about the same impact on rising GHGs as does driving all the cars and trucks in the world: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deforestation-and-global-warming/ NASA describes the causes and impact of GHGs in the atmosphere: https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/
- Economists in the USA agree: Carbon Taxes are the most effective way to reduce GHGs. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/01/17/this-is-not-controversial-bipartisan-group-economists-calls-carbon-tax/?utm_term=.1915ea0afa13
In fact, 95% of economists all over the world agree on that point and have for a while: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/jan/04/consensus-of-economists-cut-carbon-pollution
- Economists and those who have studied the matter believe that carbon taxes CREATE more jobs than they lose, if done properly: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/10/06/can-a-carbon-tax-create-jobs-jobs-jobs/#29b3f09c5832. This would be borne out by the experience in BC, where the province has had the fastest job growth in Canada since introducing a carbon tax.
- There are two aspects to the numbers here: One is the net new economic impact spent to fight / reduce climate change impacts, described here as $26 Trillion dollars: “Bold climate action could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030” https://newclimateeconomy.report/The other is the extraordinary costs of damage caused by climate change: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/paris-climate-agreement-save-world-30-trillion/
- Canada’s GDP is 1.653 Trillion. 30 Trillion is 18.5 times bigger…
- Statistics Canada’s report on the “green economy” provides jobs and totals.https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/181217/dq181217d-eng.htm
- We are second on the Global CleanTech 100 list of the most innovative clean tech companies on the list (12 companies on the list, ahead of Germany (10) and the UK with 7). The same study ranked us 4th overall on the Global CleanTech Innovation Index – a rating of countries based on each one’s ability to produce cleantech start-ups and commercialize clean technology innovations.