Contrary to recent letters suggesting that I am opposed to environmental protection, I am only vehemently opposed to the carbon tax. Here’s why: unless it is fully revenue neutral (which the current carbon tax is not) this tax hurts the ordinary citizen who can least afford it, particularly in excessively-taxed Canada. Carbon taxes are introduced by lazy governments because they’re cash cows, easy to implement, popular with ill-informed environmentalists that hate oil companies and only put limited pressure on other industries to clean up their acts. Internationally, carbon taxes do not provide enough incentive for industry and governments within those countries to take the appropriate action. This is precisely why 40 per cent of the world’s countries haven’t even begun to participate in the Paris Accords, including the U.S., Russia, parts of the Middle East, Africa and South America, while we in Canada continue to apologize and commit economic suicide.
There is no doubt that GHG emissions are exacerbating the environmental issues confronting the world today. Extreme temperatures, excessive flooding, massive forest fires and severe droughts are slowly killing the planet. GHGs are naturally generated by ocean-atmosphere exchange, plant, animal and soil respiration, vegetation decomposition and others. Human contributions to emissions include fossil fuel use, deforestation, and industrial manufacturing and mining processes, agricultural use of nitrogen bearing fertilizers and pesticides containing organophosphates and emissions from products like refrigeration, air conditioners and aerosols. Before the industrial revolution, GHG emissions were naturally balanced by the atmosphere and therein lies today’s problem. Our industrial world has increased emissions to the point where Mother Nature can no longer do her balancing act.
Examples of environmental issues ignored are occurring in the Amazon rain forest, Eastern Europe and West Africa. Deforestation causes over 10 per cent of GHGs in two forms. The harvested trees can no longer naturally absorb carbon dioxide. Secondly, large amounts of CO2, methane and nitrous oxides naturally stored in living trees are released when these trees are used for firewood or charcoal manufacture. The slow burning of trees for charcoal production generates deadly emissions harmful to both people and environments. Forests in Nigeria, Senegal, Poland and Paraguay are being destroyed for charcoal production, most of which is exported to Europe, Asia and the Middle East to fuel barbecues! The European Timber Regulation was established to stop illegal wood and paper products from entering European markets. Why was charcoal not included? In Peru, Swiss mining giant Glencore and its partner Volcan are operating a zinc mine near the city of Cerra de Pasco, the operation of which is poisoning the local children with high levels of lead and arsenic and nothing is being done about it?
The Paris Accords did absolutely nothing to establish programs that would place direct responsibility on those industries that generate the largest amount of GHGs. Secondly, there was no agreement on monitoring, reporting and, most importantly, verification of how those countries and their industries would prove their commitment. The Paris Accords include a program that countries could engage called the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”, which leaves the level of commitment up to the specific country, or what I cynically refer to as “Trust Me!”
What should be done instead is what the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) recommends. Programs should be implemented that will require polluting corporations in developed countries to pay a much higher price for their level of pollution, thus helping third World countries develop their industries until a verifiable, acceptable pollution level is reached. Australia scrapped its carbon tax and replaced it with such a program similar to what is known as Cap & Trade.
Canadian environmentalists and socialist governments continue to viciously criticize our oil and gas industry. These critics should be pleased to hear that the data from the World Resources Institute that monitors behaviour of resource developers, including oil and gas industries around the world, has confirmed that this particular industry has decreased GHG emissions from its high level of 6.4 per cent about ten years ago to 3.1 per cent today.
Many of these improved emission reduction technologies were those I referred to in my letter published on Aug. 2.