When emissions disappear, so do jobs – by Donna Laframboise (National Post – December 2, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

This is the dirty little secret lurking behind every new emissions deal: when emissions
disappear, so do jobs, economic opportunities, and human well-being.

The manufacturing jobs found in factories and the auto industry need affordable power –
not the intermittent, stupendously-priced, boutique power generated by wind turbines.
Coal mining feeds families. Oil wells put food on the table.

We used to view the dignity that accompanies a paying job as an important social good.
We used to care that unemployment, substance abuse, and family breakdown are closely
connected.

These days, we’ve convinced ourselves that driving CO2-emitting factories into bankruptcy
is smart. That throwing people out of work makes sense. That plunging families into crisis
is the path to glory. (Donna Laframboise)

Following Barack Obama’s recent visit to China, the White House issued a joint U.S.-China climate announcement that says “China intends to achieve the peaking of C02 emissions around 2030.” But that isn’t news.

A report published three-and-a-half-years ago and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy had already predicted this. Titled “China’s Energy and Carbon Emissions Outlook to 2050,” it says that population growth, urbanization, and other factors are all expected to peak in China by 2030. Therefore, emissions will, too.

Welcome to the smoke-and-mirrors world of climate negotiations. First, Mr. Obama’s “historic” agreement takes credit for forces already in motion in a foreign country. Second, despite all evidence to the contrary, it pretends that America is capable of reducing its own emissions dramatically over the next decade.

When the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was born in 1992, humanity collectively emitted 21 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. By 2012, this number had increased by 50% to 31 billion tonnes. What was the rate of increase between 1971 and 1991, before the treaty? Amusingly enough, it too was 50%.

Keen to pose as saviours of the planet, politicians across the political spectrum have spent two decades announcing UN-inspired emissions targets that no one has any realistic hope of meeting. When discussing these matters, Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, uses phrases such as “fantasy island” and “emissions impossible.”

In 2011, he called Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction goal “fanciful at best.” Much of Australia’s electricity comes from coal. Replacing sufficient amounts of this electricity would require the construction of 56 nuclear power plants, or 12,000 solar power facilities, in less than a decade.

For the rest of this column, click here: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/12/01/when-emissions-disappear-so-do-jobs/

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