Friday, September 29, 2006

The Kyoto numbers blame-game: eighty percent of what?

There’s a lot of play in Canada’s media about the Environment Commissioner’s assertion that the oil and gas sector contributes 80 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gases (GHGs). To tell the truth, I don’t even know if the Commissioner actually said it. But some media stories say she said it, and that’s what I’m talking about.

Let’s clear this up right now. In 2004, 80 percent of Canada’s GHGs were related to the use of “energy”—see page 5 of Environment Canada’s latest summary of trends. This refers to all energy use in this country: fossil fuel combustion in motor vehicles, electric power generation, forced air furnaces in homes, and any manufacturing process in which fossil fuels are burned, as well as fugitive and process emissions related to energy industries.

Alberta’s oil and gas sector was responsible for a portion of this 80 percent, but not for 80 percent. Anyone who drives a car or rides a bus, train, or plane, or who enjoys a heated home in wintertime also needs to look in the mirror.

But I digress. I promised yesterday that I would get into the Ontario electricity debate, and look at why the McGuinty government is reluctant to paint its recently announced nuclear expansion in bright environmental green. Don’t worry, it’s coming.

Stay tuned.

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