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Latest Kyoto plan equals more corporate welfare

By Walter Robinson
web posted November 25, 2002

This week Canada's federal government released the latest version of its evolving draft plan to achieve Canada's greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as laid out in the Kyoto Protocol. But the more things change, the more they remain the same as the old saying goes.

The Kyoto Protocol binds Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulphur hexafluoride) by 6 per cent below 1990 levels over 2008 to 2012 timeframe.

The motion to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is set to be introduced in Parliament on November 25th with the Liberals poised to ram it through the House of Commons in a week or two and have it pass the Senate before Christmas. Sadly there are still some fundamental problems with Ottawa's Kyoto strategy:

  • The provinces have not been consulted on this latest iteration of the federal government's so-called plan;
  • 60 megatonnes of the total 240 megatonne reduction target are still not accounted for; and
  • Claims that pursuit of this plan will result in negligible job losses and minimal economic disruption are as credible as Elvis sightings.

Part of the federal strategy is to provide "incentives" to industry and consumers to modify existing energy consumption technologies and/or change their energy consumption patterns.

For business and industry Ottawa promises a "financial backstop" and a "Partnership Fund" to help defray the costs of expenditures in energy efficiency technology. Not surprisingly, the costs – that taxpayers will ultimately bear – of these initiatives are nowhere to be found in the latest version of Ottawa's Kyoto Plan.

And Ottawa has the nerve to posit a "coordinated Innovation Strategy" that builds on programs such as Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC). This is the same TPC program that has recouped less than 3 per cent of its investments – aka corporate gifts courtesy of taxpayers – of over $1 billion in almost seven years.

This is the same TPC that is projected to loan out – aka write off, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, know what I mean – some $6.4 billion through to 2020 and in the most optimistic scenario (according to Industry Canada documents) expects to only recoup a maximum of one-third of this money.

This type of program management behaviour is better suited to a Monty Python skit instead of being one of the centerpieces in the government's, let's be frank, laughable Kyoto strategy.

On the consumer/taxpayer side, expect the federal government to try and buy you off with your own money. Purchase a smaller car, get a tax credit. Insulate your home (like we don't already), expect a cheque from the Shawinigan tax processing centre. Turn down your thermostat, get an autographed picture from the Prime Minister.

Given the history of similar schemes in the 1970s, look for many apartment dwellers to insulate their closets and receive tax credits. Countless billions will be spent over the coming decade to adhere to an international treaty in which the science is still suspect and where actions taken will result in little or zilch by way of measurable environmental benefit. Canadians deserve better.

Walter Robinson is the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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