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Greenhouse gases? Not our problem

By Lorrie Goldstein

Reprinted without permission.

Part of the hypocritical attack on Canada from the international community when it comes to climate change is that we bear a special burden because our “per capita” emissions of industrial greenhouse gases are among the highest in the world.

Today, I’m going to explain why this argument is nonsense and how, looked at in another equally valid way, Canada is one of the world’s lowest emitters of greenhouse gases.

First off, saying Canada has among the highest “per capita” emissions falsely makes it sound as if every Canadian has an oil well pumping in his or her backyard.

But it’s the method environmentalists and “green” politicians deliberately use, ad nauseam, to avoid having to admit Canada’s emissions are insignificant on a global scale.

Today, we’re responsible for about 1.6% of global emissions (the oilsands, one one-thousandth) down from 2.1% a decade ago.

Further, our global share of emissions has been going down despite the fact Canada is the second-largest and second-coldest country in the world, with a relatively small population.

In this context, of course our per capita emissions are going to be higher than many other countries. For example, a key reason why Germany’s per capita emissions are lower than ours — while its actual emissions are higher — is that Germany is one-third the size of Ontario, with a population 2.3 times the size of Canada.

Given that, think of the small amount of fossil fuel energy it takes to ship goods or produce, or to travel across Germany, compared to the huge amount it takes to do the same things in Canada. Then think of the population difference.

So yes, Canada’s per capita emissions are and will continue to be higher than in many smaller, warmer, more populated countries.

The reason — while this may come as a shock to Al Gore — is that Canadians have no control over the fact their country is the second largest and second coldest in the world, or that, compared to many other nations, we have a relatively small population.

But there’s another method of measuring a country’s greenhouse gas emissions that is every bit as legitimate as doing it based on population.

That’s doing it based on the size of the country.

Indeed, the Statistics Division of the United Nations — which is climate change central — did these calculations a few years back and produced the following results.

Among the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters (currently we’re in ninth place) Canada had the second highest per capita emissions at 17.91 tonnes.

That compared to 4.92 tonnes for China; 19.74 for the U.S., 1.38 for India; 11.13 for Russia; 10.23 for Japan; 1.94 for Brazil; 10.22 for Germany and 1.77 for Indonesia.

But, when the UN did the calculations based on the equally valid method of the size of the country, Canada’s emissions were the second lowest at 59.11 tonnes per square kilometre.

That compared to 681.30 tonnes for China; 632.91 for the U.S.; 489.77 for India; 92.40 for Russia; 3,449.80 for Japan; 43.26 for Brazil; 2,355.42 for Germany and 213.40 for Indonesia.

Indeed, you could say the rest of the world should be following Canada’s lead when it comes to emissions per square kilometres of territory.

If it did, the problem of rising emissions would be solved.

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