Opinion

Editorial — The end of the Kyoto Protocol

The new year brought in one long-overdue change — the end of the Kyoto Protocol.

Canada signed the climate change initiative back in 2002, when Jean Chretien was still prime minister. It called for a reduction in  greenhouse gas emissions — six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. Not surprisingly, that didn’t happen.

In fact, overall world carbon emissions are up by 58 per cent over those of 1990.

Is there a need to keep the growth of carbon emissions to more reasonable levels? Of course. There is considerable proof of at least some global warming, although many skeptics say that the science has been corrupted by political activism. No one can deny, though, that both the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps are shrinking and the waters close to the Poles are open for far longer periods than ever recorded before.

It’s simply good behaviour to cut back on carbon emissions as much as possible, if for no other reason than to conserve precious fossil fuel resources and actively promote alternatives that do not emit nearly as much carbon.

Nonetheless, Kyoto was never a viable option. The biggest polluters in the world refused to sign it or even abide by its most modest aims. Its call for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions were unrealistic, unless the developed world was to go into a self-induced  depression. As it is, most of the developed world has been in a serious recession for the past four years and emission levels are still rising.

The B.C. government was late in jumping on the Kyoto bandwagon, with a carbon tax, carbon credit purchases by government bodies and promotion of alternative fuels.

While the latter makes some sense, the first two do not. The carbon tax is simply a cash cow for the province that we will never get rid of. It has  not changed behaviour but, like the property purchase tax, it handsomely lines government pockets.

The carbon credit program involves taxpayers subsidizing private companies for capital projects that they would likely undertake anyway. It is ridiculous to demand that schools and hospitals be carbon neutral when the tax dollars spent to do so go to the private sector.

The federal and provincial governments need to have realistic programs to reduce emissions, and not buy into climate propaganda.

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