According to a report, Canada’s Changing Climate Report, which was published in Ottawa on 1 April 2019, Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world. The average temperature in Canada is 1.7 C higher today than it was 70 years ago, while the average global temperature is up 0.8 C. The irony is that the damage done to the environment by the higher temperatures, is irreversible. Here is a graphic representation of warming rates:
Here is an explanation for why Canada is warming faster than the world as a whole:
The response of the climate system to increasing greenhouse gases (GHG) varies from one region to another. As a result, the rates of warming around the world are not the same. These variations are a result of climate processes and feedbacks that depend on local conditions. For example, in Canada, loss of snow and sea ice is reducing the reflectivity of the surface, which is increasing the absorption of solar radiation. This causes larger surface warming than in more southerly regions. Because of this and other mechanisms, Canada is warming faster than the world as a whole — at more than twice the global rate — and the Canadian Arctic is warming even faster — at about three times the global rate.
The findings of the report included in the report were based on the work of 43 federal and university-based scientists who reviewed published scientific literature over the last two years. The report is stark in its findings, says Elizabeth Bush, a climate change adviser at Environment Canada. She said “We are already seeing the effects of widespread warming in Canada and its clear, the science supports the fact that adapting to climate change is an imperative which needed to reduce emissions”.
The Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force on November 4, 2016, established a goal of holding the increase in global temperature to 1.5ºC–2ºC above pre-industrial levels, as well as a commitment to engage in adaptation planning and implementation. Collective action in pursuit of the global temperature goal is being implemented; however, it is recognized that this goal will only reduce and not eliminate the risks and impacts of climate change. Governments and citizens need to understand how climate change might impact them.
Following the Paris Agreement, Canada is committed to cut its carbon dioxide (CO2) by about 200 million tonnes by 2030 with policies like the carbon tax, phasing out coal power, and investing in public transit, green energy and energy efficient buildings.
With the intention to cut CO2, the federal government implemented the carbon tax in four provinces on 1 April 2019 simply because these provinces failed to impose their own pricing schemes on carbon emissions in their provinces. Ontario is one of four provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.
It was astonishing, if not chilling, to absorb that the fact that politicians in all four provinces are spreading misinformation with the intention to mislead the public about the newly implemented carbon tax in their provinces. This bombardment of misinformation which is nothing but propaganda, premeditated to delude and obscure the public about the growing consequences of global warming. Consequently, it makes it difficult for the federal government to implement any solutions, including the carbon tax, to reduce GHG that causing global warming. The fact of the matter is that the federal government is struggling to come up with the ideas to inoculate the public against misinformation.
Furthermore, the newly elected premier of Alberta, is totally committed to joining the other four provinces in fighting against the implementation of carbon tax. He promised the Alberton that he will end “economy-wide carbon tax in Alberta” and he called carbon tax “A Frog in the Pot” situation for Canadians.
At the same time, Andrew Scheer during his acceptance speech as new federal Conservative party leader promised Canadians that he would scrap the Liberal’s carbon tax as well as tax on hydro.
It’s sad that we’re running out of options to prevent an environmental catastrophe. According to a very scary report from the UN climate change panel, if we don’t act now we face a worldwide disaster as early as 2040 that includes worsening food shortages, droughts, flooded coastal cities, more California-type wildfires, and a mass-die off of coral reefs. But political leaders are still fighting over what—and how extensive—that action should be.
Here is a fact – the politicians in all five provinces are promoting the misinformation about the carbon tax which seems to be working in their favour. The are telling the public that a carbon tax would “Destroy jobs and Economical Growth”. Yet the evidence from the province that actually passed such a tax tells a different story.
Scientists and economists agree that when the government puts a price on carbon, it raises the incentive for industries to innovate and find ways to lower their emissions. In an interview with CBC, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer said, “If you just commit to a tax on the usage of fuels that directly or indirectly release GHG, and then you make that tax increase steadily in the future … people will see that there’s a big profit to be made from figuring out ways to supply energy where they can do it without incurring the tax.” And, it can change the behaviour of individual consumers, too. Sumeet Gulati, a professor in the department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of British Columbia, who has studied the effectiveness of carbon taxes, said that even a low carbon tax leads to people adopting everyday measures such as driving less and opting for more fuel-efficient cars.
Here is a success story. According to Brian Murray, the director of the Duke University Energy Initiative, whose 2015 paper focused on B.C.’s carbon tax, emissions have dropped between five and 15 per cent since it was implemented in 2008.
According to Statistics Canada British Columbia’s (B.C.) policy has been a real environmental and economic success after six years. Far from a being a “job killer,” it is a world-leading example of how to tackle one of the greatest global challenges of our time: building an economy that will prosper in a carbon-constrained world.
B.C.’s carbon tax covers most types of fuel use and carbon emissions. It started out low ($10 per tonne of carbon dioxide), then rose gradually to the current $30 per tonne, which works out to about 7 cents per litre of gas. “Revenue-Neutral” by law, the policy requires equivalent cuts to other taxes. In practice, the province has cut $760-million more in income and other taxes than needed to offset carbon tax revenue.
The result was that taxpayers are coming out ahead. B.C. now has the lowest personal income tax rate in Canada (with additional cuts benefiting low-income and rural residents) and one of the lowest corporate rates in North America which is indeed is good for business and jobs.
At the same time, it’s been extraordinarily effective in tackling the root cause of carbon pollution: the burning of fossil fuels. Since the tax came in, fuel use in B.C. has dropped by 16 per cent; in the rest of Canada, it’s risen by 3 per cent (counting all fuels covered by the tax). To put that accomplishment in perspective, Canada’s Kyoto target was a 6-per-cent reduction in 20 years. And the evidence points to the carbon tax as the major driver of these B.C. gains.
Further, while some had predicted that the tax shift would hurt the province’s economy, in fact, B.C.’s GDP has slightly outperformed the rest of Canada’s since 2008.
With these impressive results, B.C.’s carbon tax has gained widespread global praise as a model for the world – from organizations such as the OECD, the World Bank and The Economist. But in the rest of Canada, it is less heralded, which is a shame. Because when you look beyond the political rhetoric and examine the facts, B.C.’s experience offers powerful, positive lessons for Canada.
Canadians must realize that Canada can be competitively ambitious in shaping a 21st century economy that internalizes the real costs of pollution. And that is important, because carbon and other emissions from burning fossil fuels impose heavy costs on us all – as B.C. knows well. The mountain pine beetle infestation, resulting from warming winters, has devastated the province’s interior forest industry, closing mills and costing thousands of jobs. Similarly, air pollution, caused mainly by burning fossil fuels, costs thousands of lives and more than $8-billion a year to Canada’s economy. These problems will only get worse if we don’t get serious about tackling the causes of carbon emissions.
Ottawa – 19 April 2019