Canada will miss its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets until it invests in new energy technologies, not just a favoured few.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers will be putting on their green-coloured glasses for their upcoming first ministers’ meeting on Monday, a week before the start of the United Nations’ climate-change conference in Paris.
The “national energy strategy” agreement that came out of the premiers’ annual meeting in July contained 50 “actions”, most of which are common practice, vague intentions or hopes to “maximize access to energy savings by all energy consumers,” plus pledges to “identify gaps in existing research” related to “transformational technologies”.
Targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were excluded from this strategy.
The Trudeau Liberal government has now adopted the previous Harper Conservative government’s target to reduce Canada’s emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, as the minimum of what it hopes to achieve.
The reality is no previous federal government has met environmental commitments and to do so now would require shutting down the equivalent of our entire oil and gas sector by 2030, 58% of it by 2020.
There is little chance Canada can meet its long-term GHG reduction target of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report.
Meanwhile, proposed exemptions and free carbon credits to select industries and technologies under the Ontario cap-and-trade plan will skewer the marketplace.
Industry and environmentalists’ claims of the benefits of various clean energy technologies are not always reliable or independently verified.
A recent German study, “Environmental comparison of electric vehicles (“EV”) versus vehicles fuelled by petrol, diesel, natural gas, biodiesel, bioethanol and biogas,” covers 13 different environmental impact categories.
It concludes switching from fossil-fuelled vehicles to EVs does not necessarily reduce the impact on the environment.
Only an EV with a battery being charged from renewable energy has a lower environmental impact across the majority of categories.
The Ontario Liberals’ green policy gave $2 billion in 20-year green energy subsides to a few select technologies, some owned or promoted by companies with Liberal party insiders, and $6 billion to South Korea’s Samsung, all of which received preferential grid connections.
The 2011 Ontario Auditor General’s annual report stated: “No independent, objective, expert investigation had been done to examine the potential effects of renewable energy policies on prices … no long-term energy plan was in place”, and the energy ministry did not estimate potential job losses and the cost per renewable for energy-related jobs in Ontario.
Canada still gives its fossil-fuel industry $2.74 billion (U.S.) in yearly subsidies, about 60% coming from the federal government in 2013 and 2014 and the rest from the provinces.
American billionaire Bill Gates says green subsidy costs are “beyond astronomical”, that “renewable energy can’t do the job”, and that “governments should switch green subsidies into R&D” (research and development).
According to Gates, “Without a substantial carbon tax, there’s no incentive for innovators or plant buyers to switch. We need innovation that gives us energy that’s cheaper than today’s hydrocarbon energy, that has zero CO2 emissions, and that’s as reliable as today’s overall energy system.”
Searching “ammonia fuel” or “ammonia engines” on the Internet reveals one viable solution has already emerged.
NH3 engines patented by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Toyota; NH3-fueled cars in Canada, the U.S., Italy and South Korea; NH3 fuelled buses in China; solar-ammonia, wind-to-ammonia, and waste-to-ammonia fertilizer plants in the U.S., and dozens of other commercial applications already exist.
But Ontario doesn’t classify NH3 as an alternative energy or fuel to qualify for any subsidies, incentives or funding, unlike the previous Harper government which funded research into NH3 fuel cells and green NH3 production.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized in its 2007 Fourth Annual Assessment Report the opportunity to economically convert renewable energy and hydrocarbons into ammonia, and sequester carbon dioxide into urea, a viable commercial commodity.
Trudeau said this week, “I know Canada has to start demonstrating real action and not just words in order for the world to understand that we are serious and committed to developing our resources in a responsible and sustainable way.”
We need to know the comparative cradle-to-grave environmental and health costs and sustainability of all energy and industrial production to level the playing field.
Trudeau should work with the premiers to eliminate all brown and green energy subsidies and begin to use a sales tax-based, full-cost accounting approach to energy and economic policy.