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Only 3 out of 186 countries filed emissions-reductions plans by the February deadline. So, what actions might REALLY do something, an Ottawa energy economist asks

The 2030 emissions targets will likely be missed by a wide margin, and succeeded by ever more stringent and unattainable targets for the future.

Photo: Financial Post

March 3, 2020

Ottawa-based energy economist Robert Lyman published an opinion in today’s Financial Post outlining the apparent futility of the Paris Accord, and the upcoming climate action meeting in November.

An excerpt:

From this vantage point, the 2030 targets seem likely to meet the same fate as the previous global targets set for 2000, 2010, and 2020 — that is, they will be missed by a wide margin, and succeeded by ever more stringent and unattainable targets for the future.

Canadians remain remarkably ill-informed about the trends in international emissions and the very small role Canada plays. Almost all political parties declare absolute allegiance to emissions-reduction targets that cannot be met and would have virtually no impact on the trends in global emissions if they were. So, what is to be done?

If one is convinced by the arguments that human emissions pose unacceptable risks in terms of future climate effects, then the wise course would be to devote most of our climate-related expenditures, not to emissions reduction, but to actions that will improve Canada’s ability to adapt to the climate changes that occur and to carefully monitoring these changes over time.

If, however, the science and modelling that underpin current projections of climate emergency seem of doubtful credibility, Canadians should adopt a different insurance policy against future harm: focusing on emissions reductions that offer economic and environmental benefits beyond GHG emissions; investing heavily in research and development on new energy technologies; protecting Canadian industry and jobs from the harmful competitive effects of higher energy costs; and assessing proposals for new energy infrastructure according to a broad range of public policy considerations, not just those related to emissions reduction. Climate realism will serve us better than climate alarm.