Please send this message on to everyone in the world: Not one more word of apology.
No more flustered grovelling because our per capita emissions are higher than average; they are that way for a reason. No more bowing to demands that Canada enforce outsized emissions cuts, when the reason for the emissions in the first place is that we hand other countries their building materials – we do the dirty work for them.
As we wobble on our axis as an exporting nation, cross-threaded on everything that is important and fixated on everything that is not, it would appear to be a very bad time to poke The Donald in the eye by stealing his theme. But what the heck, desperate times call for desperate measures. I propose a blatant theft of his election motto. Trump won’t notice; now that USMCA is signed, Canada is once again less significant to him than CNN.
Is it un-Canadian to talk about Canada being great? Is it sociologically bad form to propose that our per capita emissions are not a problem? Well, if it is, good. Elevating the quality of niceness to our national trademark has made us a doormat, particularly in the climatic world, where several dozen of our own citizens and a few others have convinced the world that our natural resources are destroying the planet. It is obvious that Canada’s emissions are not the problem, at less than 2 percent of the world total, but what gets activists up in arms is that Canada’s emissions are high on a per capita basis. Climate change people really don’t want to talk about national emissions levels because it makes some highly-populated countries feel bad, so the climate industry prefers to harangue the highest per capita emitters.
To do so is utter stupidity, if the concern is indeed the absolute level of CO2 in the atmosphere (that is not the actual concern, social engineering is, but they say CO2 levels are most important, so let’s take them at their word). It is obvious that time would be better spent chopping a major polluting nation’s emissions by 5 percent rather than Canada’s by 20.
Regardless, since eco-warriors insist that per capita emissions are the problem, let us, to be gracious, accept that the yardstick has meaning. Here are the top 11 global emitters on a per capita basis (I had to go to 11 to get Canada on the list) as provided by some dubious but indistinct think tank called the World Resources Institute (metric tonnes of CO2 per year, 2013):
|9. United Arab Emirates||24.6|
*I scratched my head too; it is a South Pacific nation with 1,600 people, not much for a winter Olympics team, and the total CO2e emissions of a Taco Bell franchise.
Focusing on per capita emissions isn’t a particularly useful measure upon some fairly simple inspection, because we can see that many of the top 11 generate far more energy than they use and export the rest. That is, they provide fuel for the world, and get beat up for it.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into what the world gets for Canada’s “bad behaviour.” If we’re going to look at emissions per capita, let’s look at the flip side too. Let’s look at what the world gets from each of Canada’s 37 million citizens in terms of raw materials. That’s only fair, right? If Canada generates a lot of CO2 but generates a lot of exports for the world, that’s different than if we simply generated the CO2 by smoking weed, isn’t it?
On that note, each Canadian on average provides to the world in one year via export the following:
|Iron ore||1,260 kg|
|Lumber||1.1 cubic metres (softwood only)|
|Wood pulp||249 kg|
|Grains/oilseeds/other crops||440 kg|
|Oil (net exports)||32.5 barrels|
|Natural gas (net exports)||57 thousand cubic feet|
If that table seems weird, and it is, let’s look at Canada’s absolute contributions to the world. For agriculture, Canada was the 5th largest exporting nation, accounting for over 6 percent of the world’s food exports.
For minerals, Canada represents the 5th largest nation of 13 major materials including potash, uranium, aluminum, and cobalt (materials go into cell phones and electric vehicles, to name a few notables).
For oil, Canada is the fourth largest producer and the 4th largest exporter.
All this from a country with world’s 38th highest population.
You’re probably as bored as I am with statistics, but you get the picture. These are just some of the items; there are dozens of other metals, minerals, diamonds, and on and on. These are raw materials also, not processed and packaged ones like autos, canola oil, or good old meat.
Furthermore, Canada generates all these goods over vast distances in a climate that is, to put it mildly, not friendly. Blistering summer heat can rival Texas’s, while our winter cold stacks up against anyone’s. Those factors alone account for a major slice of Canada’s emissions.
The list above, produced under harsh and remote conditions, is what Canada is able to provide with its 21 metric tonnes of CO2e per person per year. The pile of exports is quite incredible, particularly compared to any other sizeable country’s. Great Britain’s emissions are 8.9 mTCO2e, and they produce and export what – Mr. Bean? What is the carbon footprint of filming him bounce around a studio set with a turkey carcass on his head? Almost no nation exports such vast quantities of everything the world wants like Canada does, in both absolute and per capita terms.
Like most countries in the top per capita emitters category, our levels are higher than average because we provide far more than we use, and the world benefits. If we want to cut the world’s CO2 levels, then cut CO2 levels in the most blindingly obvious places – where they predominantly come from.
Canada always has been great, even under the pile of bureaucratic wet blankets we seem to tolerate all too well (but which is getting overwhelming). I can’t do anything about them, I’m not a one-man army, but we can spread the word to turn the tide against irrational social engineers who think they know what they are doing but do not.
So please, go tell the world – Canada provides your resources with an environmental footprint that is bigger than most on a per capita basis because our contribution to the world is bigger than most.
Don’t take away wrong conclusions here; reducing emissions is always a good thing. Moving to renewable energy is good also, as long as it is done properly with a sound game plan. But we need to stop letting the message run free that Canada is in any way a major part of the problem.
Thanks to Vic from Victoria for sending me the title idea, in big green font. How very cool that such an idea originated from under the very noses of Horgan and Weaver.