Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Canadian Climate-change action to move at snail's pace.

This is from the Chronicle Herald.

It is clear that Canada is going to drag along behind the U.S. The carbon capture technology still may not be actually employed significantly for years yet and it is quite expensive. Harper so far has done little even with respect to programs he announced some time ago. Harper is quite happy with moving at a snail's pace but moving fast when it comes to rhetoric on environmental issues.

Climate-change action to move at snail’s pace A lot of Canada’s strategy depends on what U.S. does
The Canadian PressSat. Feb 21 - 5:44 AM
OTTAWA — Curious about those heady plans for Canada and the U.S. to trap nasty greenhouse gas emissions underground? Don’t hold your carbon dioxide.
Ditto for new fuel emissions standards on gasoline, Canadian greenhouse gas reduction targets and a common position on the next phase of the Kyoto Accord on climate change.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new dialogue on climate change following their meeting this week, with a focus on developing new technologies to stem emissions from the coal and oil industries.
Carbon capture and storage is a process in which carbon dioxide is taken from the air and buried away from the atmosphere.
But the timelines for when such technologies could actually begin reducing the carbon footprint of the big polluters are unclear.
Other climate-change initiatives that have been in the Conservative pipeline for years have now become contingent on what the Obama administration comes up with.
Environment Minister Jim Prentice said work on the environmental tech-nology strategy starts immediately, beginning with high-level meetings with Obama’s top environmental adviser and international climate-change negotiator. Both governments have earmarked substantial amounts in their stimulus plans for carbon capture and storage research and development.
"What’s quite exciting about all of this is that with the dollars that the U.S. is talking about and the dollars we have put forward . . . essentially as North Americans we will be leading the world in carbon capture and storage," Prentice said in an interview.
Still, the Alberta government has set a date of 2015 for so-called demonstration projects to come online. Questions of who will pick up the bill for the expensive processes have not yet been addressed.
Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute said costly environmental technologies won’t be adopted by industry until they have a tough incentive to do so.
"The only way to make carbon capture actually happen on a large scale is to put a tough cap on emissions and make sure the industry pays for it," said Bramley. "There were a lot of warm-sounding words (Thursday) on technologies, but no discussion of the policies that are actually needed to deploy the technology on a large scale."
While there is widespread agreement that carbon capture and storage can effectively reduce emissions from coal and oil projects, observers underline that governments must also step up work on reducing dependence on fossil fuels. More investments in renewable fuels and energies are needed, says John Drexhage of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
"I think some of what (carbon capture and storage) can provide is being oversold. There is always a tendency to try and find as simple solution as possible and find those magic bullets," said Drexhage. "CCS can go some of the ways there, but it’s in no way going to be all of the solution."
Meanwhile, the federal government has still not published greenhouse-gas emission reductions, two years after it announced its policy with much fanfare. Even once the reductions come online, some industries with new facilities won’t need to cut emissions for three years.
Prentice says imposing targets before it’s clear what Washington decides to do might penalize Canadian industry.
"Part of the challenge is that we share the same economic space with the United States," said Prentice. "It is extremely difficult and quite counterproductive to bring in on one side of the Canada-US border an industrial regulation that deals with greenhouse gases when you don’t have any regulations on the other side."

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