GOLDSTEIN: Big news on climate change — Gambia wins, Canada loses

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Canada is a laggard in the international effort to avert catastrophic climate change, according to a major new study by Climate Analytics, a global, non-profit climate science and policy institute.

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The organization’s “climate action tracker” describes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policies as “highly insufficient” in regard to achieving the United Nations’ Paris climate accord goal he signed Canada up for in 2015.

That is to hold global temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

It says Trudeau’s policies are consistent with 4C of warming and Canada hasn’t committed sufficient funds to mitigate the impacts of climate change on poor nations.

We’re lumped in with a group of countries the climate tracker says are failing to do their part, including China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Vietnam.

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But that’s not the most interesting finding in the report.

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Many previous studies have concluded Canada will fail to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to Trudeau’s target of 40% – 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, on the way to net zero by 2050.

And, to be fair, while the U.S. is doing slightly better than Canada — its efforts judged to be “insufficient” along with Chile, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Norway, Peru, South Africa and Switzerland — we’re not among the worst offenders.

They’re in the “critically insufficient” category — Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand.

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But the most interesting finding in the climate tracker study is that the only country said to have climate policies compatible with achieving the Paris accord goals is Gambia, or, as it is formally known, Republic of The Gambia

But Gambia, a tiny country in West Africa of 2.5 million people, while relatively stable politically, is one of the world’s poorest nations, relying heavily on foreign aid.

That’s not a criticism of the country. It’s simply to note that the only nation on track to meet its climate target according to this study has nothing in common with a big, cold, northern, industrialized nation like Canada.

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Now let’s look at the countries whose policies are “almost sufficient” to comply with the Paris accord.

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Only one is a major industrialized nation — the U.K. The others are Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal and Nigeria.

From this, we can deduce four things.

First, that as a big, cold, northern, sparsely populated country with significant fossil fuel resources, we will never hit Trudeau’s climate targets, or for that matter any target set by any Canadian government, Liberal or Conservative, as has now been the case for more than three decades.

Second, the only countries likely to succeed in meeting their climate targets will not be major industrialized nations but small countries in warmer climates with the help of foreign aid.

Third, despite Trudeau imposing a $40 per tonne carbon tax/price on Canadians this year, rising to $170 per tonne by 2030, preparing a second carbon tax called the clean fuel standard and committing almost $115 billion to climate action, clean growth and a green recovery since 2015, Canada will always be considered a climate laggard.

Fourth, carbon taxes/prices are becoming increasingly divorced from the claim their purpose is to combat climate change and correctly understood as a sin tax for using fossil fuels, raising the cost of almost all goods and services because almost all goods and services are created, grown, manufactured, or delivered using fossil fuel energy.

lgoldstein@postmedia.com

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