Progress on climate change!

Today, 120 members of the House of Congress in the United States introduced the Safe Climate Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 80% by 2050.  Canada’s Liberal climate change plan calls for reductions of 60-80% by 2050.  The NDP calls for reductions of 80% by 2050 as well.  While some analysts propose even higher reductions, (George Monbiot, in his book “Heat” proposes reductions of 94% by 2030 for Canada) these are certainly in the range of what is called for.

Also today, the Star reported that all 3 opposition parties in parliament tabled amendments to the Clean Air Act that are so similar that consensus will likely be reached and these changes instituted.  All of this is great news.

There is one quibble I have with all of this legislation.  The Safe Climate Act would do nothing for 3 years, then freeze emissions for a year, then force reductions of 2% annually until 2020 and then target 5% reductions annually.  The theory is that reducing emissions gets easier.  Similarly, the proposed Canadian targets demand accelerated emissions reductions in the future.

Has anyone ever heard the saying “The last 10% of the work takes 90% of the time”?  It’s easier to achieve reductions now, when there’s a lot of waste and inefficiency in the system.  Putting off the unpleasant changes only makes them more difficult.

There’s another reason why we should do more sooner – because ultimately what matters is the total amount of carbon in the air.  Reducing more now will decrease the effects of global warming when we finally stabilize emissions.

We also need to make sure that these reductions don’t depend on resource-wasteful, unproven or dangerous technologies like nuclear energy, clean coal or corn ethanol.  But now we have something to build on.  The world is getting greener.

And let me say it again.  Let’s not give Mr. Harper a majority, whatever else we do.  It’s wonderful to see the opposition finding some common ground.

One response to “Progress on climate change!”

  1. Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu writes:

    I take back my quibble. The emissions reductions targets are based on 1990 levels. That means that the opposition is calling for an emissions reduction of nearly 1/3 during the Kyoto period, and almost 1/2 by 2020 on today’s levels. That is an appropriately challenging goal.

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