Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
Climate science is in a state of development. Similarly the scientific and engineering basis to manage now increasing greenhouse gases is immature.
This presentation undertakes a review of some proposed strategies which seem ineffective, totally opaque, or possibly even counter to the goal of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
My purpose today to foment consideration of progressive strategies to  help develop policy appropriate to  the short and long term.
The idea of sustainable development provides a useful basis to frame this discussion. However the phrase has become so commonly used  is a precisely relevant definition might be hard to find. Everyone has developed their specialized idea of its meaning.
 A Google search on the phrase “sustainable development”  yields nearly 85 million “hits” representing thousands of organizations. Canada’s International Institute for Sustainable Development deserves honorable mention as  number 1 on the “hit” list.
I found what I needed in the second organization listed. The United Nations is the mother of sustainable development and their website logo includes the fundamental definition “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
For the sake of this presentation I provide a modified definition to convey the idea that effective  policy should aim at control of atmospheric greenhouse gases – now and on into the future.
I define such a policy as: Policy and practice which manages atmospheric greenhouse gases at present and provides a way forward for future generations to do the same while meeting their own needs.
We've heard the term “low hanging fruit” to describe greenhouse gas reductions deemed easily achieved through efficiency improvement and conservation.
Many organizations place great emphasis on this.
The “One Tonne Challenge” program was set up to push consumers in this direction
Engineers have focused on improving efficiency of machines with great success. For example, thermal engines have increased their energy output from about 1% of their energy input to the near perfection ( 60% +) of combined cycle power plants. Many other machines have been improved similarly.
I don’t dispute this is is a good thing.
How effective is energy efficiency improvement as a means of reducing overall use and emissions? The track record indicates emissions  they actually increase . How can that be? The cost reduction resulting from efficiency improvement makes energy use affordable for a greater population. Individuals identify more useful applications of energy contributing still more to increasing emissions. More energy also results in more people and overall emissions increase again. Until recently I thought this phenomena was as universally known and appreciated as the wheel. Apparently it  was actually documented back in 1865 and is known as Jevons paradox. I have some recent personal experience with this. Our household took on the One Tonne Challenge early in 2003, installing some 40 plus fluorescent bulbs, dimmers, timers, and  motion detection switches. Our emissions, particularly from electricity, went up the next year. I suspect my wife  countered any savings  with those perverse water cooler/heaters and some new light fixtures. Energy efficiency improvement is  not a stand alone way to control greenhouse gas emissions long term and thus does not qualify as sustainable greenhouse gas management in the context of this discussion.
Let’s move on to consider some potential  forest and agricultural actions.
Canada considers the inclusion of  sinks in the Kyoto Protocol a victory in the  negotiations. It does seem there is potential for sinks to be effective.
Specified forest sink factors taken into account by Kyoto include afforestation (That’s planting new forests on previously unforested lands), and reforestation. Deforestation is to be counted too – as releasing greenhouse gases.
Canada may be able to claim some modest credit for such sinks within the Kyoto framework.
However, once such forests have fully grown and matured, it seems they cease to function as sustained sinks. They need some human help to be sustainable  for future generations.
There are aspects of Canada’s forest sink policy   which are very difficult to understand.
Canada’s greenhouse gas inventory assumes that when forests are harvested, their carbon content is released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Actually much of the carbon remains in wood products. Our growing inventory of houses represents a carbon sink not accounted for.
Canada has inexplicably chosen not to take into account the carbon sink associated with wood products. A review of Canada’s GHG inventory suggests  emissions might be reduced by up to 150 million tonnes with a change of accounting methodology. That’s a big chunk of our total emissions of some 750 million tonnes.
In fact carbon representing about  40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide is freely shipped in lumber to the United States every year. Understandably, no one seems interested in factoring that into our lumber dispute.  That issue is already incomprehensible.
To summarize, the afforestation and reforestation initiatives of Kyoto seem limited by land and forest growth constraints. They discourage harvesting to allow regrowth and continuing carbon dioxide removal if there is no sink credit for forest products. They are thus  not sustainable by the standards of this review.
Some policies which are being considered for GHG management may even discourage removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Reflection on the landfill concept reminds us of  Mother Nature’s methods  to produce fossil fuels as carbon is moved underground from the atmosphere by burying organic wastes. Presumably waste management systems could be designed which would trap nearly  all of the carbon in organic waste thus forming a sink and a potential emission removal credit. On the other hand if the waste were simply incinerated  the carbon content would be released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. No removal or reduction credit would be generated. In between these extremes there is the possibility of generating methane. Methane is 21 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. It thus seems possible to  create up to  28 carbon dioxide equivalent credits from processes which produce methane.  That makes them much more financially rewarding than those which might actually sequester carbon. Establishing  policy to provide credits for landfill gas capture could thus discourage waste management which would be carbon neutral or would actually remove carbon from the atmosphere. 
This photo shows waste output from one of the large feedlots near Lethbridge, Alberta. Methods currently used to process manure produce some methane.
A plant on the outskirts of Lethbridge has been proposed to process manure and other wastes for energy. According to the company brochure, an  anaerobic digestion process will produce biogas. This biogas consists of 60 to 70% methane and 30 to 35% carbon dioxide. It  will provide fuel for  three 1 MW generators which will  supply  electricity to the Alberta grid and thermal energy to consumers.
The company anticipates greenhouse gas reduction credits may be earned through eliminating the  methane emissions from existing processes.
This plant is in my backyard. I intend to keep a watch on  it.
This presentation raised a few examples  of proposed greenhouse gas management policy which may be ineffective, incomprehensible, and actually counter to sustained reductions.
It’s goal is to stimulate discussion of sustainable policy to manage greenhouse gases that will work in the long and short term.
We may not be sure, but it could turn out that those who predict serious  global warming from current human activity are right. We need to take the time to think this through and come up with policy to modify our activity  in a way which will work for us and for future generations.