Pollution cost Canada $2 billion in Lost Labour Output alone

The June 2017 report, Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments reviews and synthesizes existing studies to produce the most comprehensive assessment of pollution and its costs  in Canada to date. Some quick facts: the cost of climate change-related heat waves in Canada is estimated to have been $1.6 billion in 2015; Smog alone cost Canadians $36 billion in 2015. But the report also provides detailed estimates, organized in three categories: 1.  Direct Welfare Costs: (Harm to health and well-being such as  lower enjoyment of life, sickness and premature death); 2.  Direct Income Costs – (Direct out of pocket expenses for families (e.g. medications for asthma), businesses (e.g. increased maintenance costs for buildings) and governments (remediation of polluted sites); and 3. Wealth impacts.

Direct Welfare Costs of pollution, the most studied and understood,  are estimated as at least $39 billion in 2015, or about $4,300 for a family of four.  The Direct Income Costs   that could be measured amounted to $3.3 billion in 2015, but the study cautions that this many important costs could not be measured, and full impacts on income were likely in the tens of billions of dollars.  In this category, the study estimates  Lost Labour Outputs, using a metric derived from the 2016  OECD study,  The  Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution.  The OECD estimates outdoor air pollution to cost 0.1% of national GDP, which, when applied to Canada’s  2015 GDP of approximately  $1,986 billion, implies a costs of about $2 billion in lost labour output alone. And finally, Wealth impacts, or costs on value of assets , are said to be the least understood of pollution costs, about which, “We simply do not know how much pollution costs us in terms of lost wealth”.

Costs of Pollution in Canada: Measuring the impacts on families, businesses and governments was prepared by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), with funding from the Ivey Foundation; the full report is available in English- only. Summaries are in English  and French.Short  videos were derived in cooperation with the Conference Board of Canada to focus on key topics:  e.g. extreme weather, contaminated sites, and smog .

Canadian GHG emissions decreased by 2.2% from 2005, according to the latest report to UNFCCC

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) posted the National Inventory Reports of greenhouse gas emissions from most countries of the world in the second week of April 2017, including   Canada’s National Inventory Report 1990–2015: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.   The full 3-part report, available only at the UNFCC website, is an exhaustive inventory emissions of GHG’s, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride, reported for the country and for each province and territory.  Statistics are given for five economic sectors, as defined and required by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) :  Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use, Agriculture, Waste, and Land Use, and Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).  An Executive Summary is posted at Environment and Climate Change Canada, and includes statistics using Canadian economic sector definitions.

A few  highlights:  In 2013; Canada represented approximately 1.6% of total global GHG emissions. Canada remains one of the highest per capita emitters, although that is decreasing since 2005 and was the lowest yet in 2015,  at 20.1 tons.  In 2015, Canada’s GHG emissions were 722 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – a net decrease of  2.2% from 2005 .  The Energy Sector ( as defined by IPCC, consisting of Stationary Combustion Sources, Transport, and Fugitive Sources) emitted 81% of Canada’s total GHG emissions;  Agriculture emitted  8%; Industrial Processes  and Product Use emitted 7%; the  Waste Sector emitted 3%.

Using Canadian economic sector definitions, our Oil and Gas sector showed a 20% increase in emissions from 2005 to 2015; Transportation increased by  6% in that time.

Nationally, we posted a 31% decrease in emissions associated with electricity production. The permanent closure of all coal generating stations in the province of Ontario by 2014 was the determinant factor.

emissions by province 2015

From:  National Inventory Report 1990 – 2015 Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada; Figure S-9 Emissions by Province in 2005, 2010, and 2015

 

 

Ceremonial Signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, Earth Day 2016

cop21 logo As widely reported, over 170 national representatives took part in a ceremonial signing of the Paris climate agreement    at the U.N. in New York on April 22, Earth Day.  The Paris Agreement comes into force when countries representing at least 55% of total global greenhouse gasses, and 55% of the population, join the agreement.  See “US and China lead push to bring Paris climate deal into force early”   in The Guardian for details of each country’s proportion of emissions, and national ratification prospects.  “The Key Players in Climate Change” in the  New York Times (April 21)  provides an overview of the major emmiters: U.S., China, EU, Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia.  Although Canada is one of the highest per capita emitters in the world, it represents approximately 1.6% of total global GHG emissions in 2012.

A brief  press release from Canada’s PMO is here.   Prime Minister Trudeau pledged that Canada’s House of Commons would ratify the agreement by the end of 2016 – matching the date pledged by the U.S. and China, in an article in  the Globe and Mail. The Prime Minister spoke against a backdrop of  two recent reports about Canada’s emissions. The  National Inventory of  Report of GHG Emissions 1990 – 2014 , released by  Environment and Climate Change Canada, is an annual compilation of statistics mandated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It shows that total GHG emissions decreased overall between 2005 and 2014, but have increased by 5.2% from 2009 to 2014. Six provinces’ emissions have declined since 2005, but emissions in  Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland  have increased.    81% of Canada’s GHG emissions in 2014 originated in the energy sector (which the IPCC  broadly defines to include the fossil fuel industry, electricity, industrial production, transportation, agriculture and more).  Emission intensity for the entire economy (GHG per GDP) has declined by 32% since 1990, which the report attributes to “fuel switching, increases in efficiency, the modernization of industrial processes, and structural changes in the economy”.   The French version of the National Inventory Report  is here.

The Conference Board gives Canada a “D” grade overall on three dimensions it measured in its April 21 report:  How Canada Performs: Environmental Report Card  : climate change, air pollution, and freshwater management.  Canada ranks 14th among the 16 peer countries, with only the U.S. and Australia worse.

COP21: Actions of the provincial and federal governments

On November 27, on the eve of COP 21, the Government of British Columbia released the  recommendations of its appointed Climate Leadership Team, summarized in a press release. The recommendations centred on increases to the carbon tax and a 2030 target to reduce emissions across three broad sectors: Built Environment, Industry and Transportation, by 40%, compared to 2007. In a Nov. 30 interview with the CBC, Premier Clark’s response was non-committal and dependent on public consultations in 2016; in an interview with the Globe and Mail on December 9, she stated that B.C.’s position will now depend on national targets. On December 8, British Columbia became the first Canadian jurisdiction to sign on to the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) – a subnational collaboration between 29 states and provinces from Brazil, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain and the United States.  

On November 27, Quebec announced an ambitious GHG emissions reduction target of 37.5% below 1990 levels by 2030, and launched a new social campaign to inspire its citizens. The campaign, Let’s do it for them or Faisons-le pour eux includes further news.

On December 3, on the way to COP21, Manitoba released Manitoba’s Climate Change and Green Economy Action Plan, as well as Green and Growing: Manitoba’s Commitment to Green Jobs, both available here. The plan is wide-ranging, including targets for emissions reductions through enhanced green building standards, green infrastructure investment, greener government operations, and cooperation with Indigenous people. It promises to create 6,000 green jobs in the next five years. Most attention however, focused on the announcement of a cap-and-trade system. Read the CBC News report (Dec. 3) or a summary at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
On December 7, the Premiers of Ontario, Québec, and Manitoba signed a new memorandum of understanding signalling their intent to link their respective cap and trade programs under the Western Climate Initiative, the North American carbon market which also includes California.
Both Quebec and British Columbia joined the International Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance – Quebec on December 3, and B.C. on December 10. Members of the Alliance agree to strive to make all new passenger vehicles in their jurisdictions ZEVs by no later than 2050. Also at COP21, the Alliance released a paper by the International Coalition for Clean Transportation, Global Climate Change Mitigation Potential from a Transition to Electric Vehicles.    
The first Compact of States and Regions Disclosure Report was released at COP21 on December 7, listing GHG reduction targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050, as well as progress to date on the targets, and renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. According to the summary press release, the collective goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 12.4 GtC02e by 2030 – greater than China’s current annual output, and 47.4 GtCO2e by 2050 – equal to total world GHG emissions in 2012. The Compact of States and Regions, formed in 2014, now includes Alberta, B.C. Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, and Quebec among its 44 members.
On the national level, the greatest surprise came when Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced support for the 1.5C target; see the Globe and Mail   (Dec. 6) or “Canada shocks COP21 with Big New Climate Goal” in The National Observer.
Canada also joined 36 other countries including the U.S., Germany, France, Mexico and the UK, in a December 1 communiqué committing to the reform of fossil-fuel subsidies. The communique calls for three key principles: transparency on subsidy policies and reform timetables, ambition in scale and timetable for reforms, and supports to assist in the transition away from subsidies. In November, Oil Change International released  Empty Promises: G20 Subsidies to Oil Gas and Coal Production which estimates that 8 countries – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – spend a combined $80 billion a year on public support for fossil fuel production.

Brazil and India submit INDC statements before COP21

All the major emitters have now submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions statements to the UNFCC: Brazil on September 28, with a commitment to reduce GHG emissions 37% by 2025 and 43% by 2030, and a goal to eliminate illegal deforestation and restore 12 million hectares of land.
India, on October 2, pledged to reduce the intensity of its fossil fuel emissions 33 percent to 35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and to produce 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. India stated that $2.5 trillion U.S. would be required between now and 2030 to meet its goals; in a softening of its position, India did not make emission cuts conditional on aid, according to the New York Times, although a government official quoted by Inside Climate News quotes states that its efforts will be tied to the “availability and level of international financing and technology transfer”. On October 5th, Reuters reported “Germany offers India $2.25 billion for solar, clean energy”; Reuters also reported that India is opening one coal mine a month in a drive to double its coal production by 2020.