Oh, Dear, Poor Canada!
On November 7, 2007, The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook forecast a 57% increase in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 2030 if no new action is taken.
Where does Canada stand environmentally?
- While it’s 2006 greenhouse gas emissions at 721 megatonnes — the latest figures available — show a 1.9% decrease from 2005 levels, they are still 22% above the 1990 total and almost 30% above Canada’s Kyoto target of 558 megatonnes.
- Canadians scored dismally in a 14-country survey, released in May, 2008, on environmentally friendly consumption patterns, in part owing to a widespread car culture and a penchant for big homes.
That survey, conducted by the polling firm GlobeScan for the National Geographic Society, showed Canada ahead of the United States but behind Brazil, India, China, Mexico, Hungary, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Spain, Japan and France.
- Canada ranked close to last on an annual index that evaluates and compares the climate protection performances of 56 industrialized and emerging countries that, together, are responsible for more than 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Canada placed 53rd on the index, down two spots from 2006.
That study, compiled by the environmental organization Germanwatch, and released in December, 2007, compares the countries in three different ways, and then calculates a combined Climate Change Performance Index. Canada ranked 46th for its emissions levels, 43rd for its emission trends, and 55th for the effectiveness of its national government policies.
- Ken Ogilvie, executive director, Pollution Probe, a Canadian charitable environmental organization dedicated to achieving positive and tangible environmental change, in a November, 2007, speech, noted that:
- Canada ranks second highest in the world in terms of per capita water consumption, at 353 liters/day (65% more than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average).
- With respect to per capita energy consumption, Canada ranks ninth highest in the world — higher than any of the major industrialized countries (but we do consume less per capita than oil-producing countries like Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates).
- Canada is third highest in the world in terms of per capita emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal global greenhouse gas.
- On a global basis, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an intergovernmental organisation of industrialised countries, has ranked Canada 27th out of 29 OECD nations when greenhouse gas emissions are measured on a per capita basis.
In the most recent OECD country comparisons, Canada ranks poorly:
- 27th out of 29 nations in energy use per capita;
- 28th out of 29 nations in energy efficiency;
- 27th out of 28 nations in sulphur dioxide emissions per capita (more than twice the OECD average);
- 25th of out 28 nations in nitrogen dioxide emissions per capita (almost 40% higher than the OECD average);
- 25th out of 26 nations in volatile organic compound emissions per capita;
- 26th out of 27 nations in carbon monoxide emissions per capita.
The surveys, while they may vary slightly, reveal one thing in common: Canada’s industries, businesses, building owners, individuals and governments are lagging in environmental efforts compared to many countries. And, while we may not have the most polluted air, our world and our health are being seriously affected by these energy-related co-pollutants.
In May, 2008, environmentalist David Suzuki forecast that after the next U.S. election, “People will get on board the renewable energy bandwagon and Canada will be left in the dark.”
Can we afford that?