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Computare on GHG Emissions

December 28, 2004 - One Tonne Challenge Update

Canada's One Tonne Challenge program to reduce emissions has been re-featured in the media lately. A new federal government advertisement  featuring Rick Mercer promoting  the program has been  on television. His video is also on the One Tonne Challenge website.

We took up the challenge in 2003, prior to the official launch of the program,  as noted in the July 25 article below. Our results for 2003 are available.  We found that our emissions actually increased. We too sent a report to the One Tonne Challenge website. Our story has not been posted. Perhaps negative results are not appreciated. In the interest of transparency, it seems timely to more fully report our actions and to ponder the reasons for our failure. Our experience suggests the One Tonne Challenge will fail, and the failure will go unnoticed from a lack of monitoring.

We are left to wonder if the choice of the jokester, Mr. Mercer, to advertise the One Tonne Challenge reflects clever double speak. Taken literally his pitch could indicate to Kyoto believers that our federal government is making a sincere effort to get Canadians to lower emissions. At the same time Kyoto skeptics reading between the lines may reasonably take his hyper appeal to action as reassurance  that nothing is expected of them.

July 25, 2004 - Personal Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory

Since the note below on personal greenhouse gas emissions was written, (January 25) we've held a federal election. The winners promised to go ahead with actions to make good on Canada's commitment to Kyoto. I also took on, with my wife, Canada's "One Tonne Challenge" at the beginning of 2003. That public commitment is documented in a letter to the Lethbridge Herald published on March 31. I challenged Canada's Environment  Minister Anderson to document the results of his commitment publicly as well. Our emissions for 2001, 2002, and 2003 are documented in a short report as a basis for demonstrating progress in our efforts to constrain our emissions. The methodology is provided in sufficient detail to allow others to implement similar procedures. We might anticipate that the voluntary "One Tonne Challenge" - or more - will become mandatory should Canada really strive to reduce emissions. (DRP 04/07/25)

January 25, 2004 - Implications to Canadians of  the Kyoto commitment

Environmental organizations have  seemingly sold Canadians on the idea it will be quite easy to comply with Kyoto. They imply that greenhouse gas  emissions are due to dirty and irresponsible industry, forestry and agriculture. The federal government too, with the Climate Change Plan for Canada,  suggests Kyoto life for individual Canadians will be nearly painless, with the challenge that we each reduce personal emissions by only one tonne  annually. The plan suggests  individual Canadians will be able to get by with a few modest efficiency improvements, while industry will be leaned on to take the major actions needed to reduce emissions.
Our federal government's Large Final Emitters Group has been  negotiating with industry for over a year on agreements for emission  reductions. To date few agreements have been announced.  Perhaps it is not easy for industry to make greenhouse gas reduction commitments in the face of a growing economy and population to be serviced. When might authorities come  around to thinking that it could be easier to manage and  control emissions generated by  individual Canadians?
Canada's total emissions were about 720 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2001. Our population was 30 million in 2001 resulting in 24 tonnes of  emissions per capita. A federal government presentation (See Slide 2) shows the Kyoto protocol requires Canada's total emissions be reduced to about 570 million tonnes annually by 2010 (actually averaged over the period from 2008 to 2012). In anticipation of a population of about 35 million by that time, annual overall per capita emissions will need to be reduced to about  16 tonnes.

Iíve worked out our two member family personal carbon dioxide emissions for 2001 and 2002. We generate and release  about 15 tonnes/year  each.  That is awfully close to our total per capita share of anticipated Kyoto level emissions. It does not include the substantial emissions generated by other sectors such as industry, agriculture and forestry on our behalf. Our modest life style would not be much impacted by the one tonne challenge from the federal government. Reducing our emissions by several tonnes would not be easy.

Canadian's housing and transportation choices are clearly responsible for a large share of total emissions. I will be calculating our  2003 emissions level shortly and will provide the details of our emission records here. Tracking and monitoring of personal emissions is extremely easy.  One wonders if our federal government will be tempted to lean directly - and hard -  on us to encourage emissions reductions. We've been told Canada will go ahead to meet the Kyoto commitment, even if Russia does not ratify it. Systems are already almost in place to collect the data needed to calculate personal emissions. What next steps might be taken to encourage reductions? Canadians might want to think about the implications of meeting Kyoto protocol emission reductions before the forthcoming election.  (DRP 04/01/26)

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