It’s Earth Day, and most of us are hypocrites

It's Earth Day, but Canadians' little acts of kindness will be a lot like slapping a brown bandage -- one of the tiny, narrow ones -- on a gunshot wound.

It’s Earth Day, but Canadians’ little acts of kindness will be a lot like slapping a brown bandage - one of the tiny, narrow ones—on a gunshot wound.

In 1990, Canada’s baseline for greenhouse gas emissions was set at a smidge below 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada was supposed to drop its emissions six per cent below that baseline, to 558.4 million tonnes.

It’s now 19 years later and, according to the latest figures released by Environment Canada, we’re not even trying.

The nation is now producing 747 million tonnes of CO2, 26 per cent more than it was in 1990 - and it’s best to simply forget our Kyoto target.

There was a little drop starting in 2003-04, attributed to warm winters, but the nation made up for lost time and surpassed the high by 2007.

“Long-term growth remains significant,” states Environment Canada’s report, dubbed Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

The remark is the height of understatement.

Canada is the worst emitter, per capita, in the G8.

Oil and gas production, an increase in the number of vehicles on Canada’s roads and an increased reliance on coal for electrical generation has spurred emissions to record highs.

It’s not that Canada can’t curb its greenhouse gas production.

Residential emissions have remained stable from 1990 because homes are being built better.

The industrial sector managed a 6.2 per cent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, despite some bad actors in the category.

But every other sector is out of control.

In fact, our emissions are growing faster than our GDP.

Mining emissions are up 276 per cent.

Energy emissions are up 74 million tonnes, about 10 per cent of the nation’s total emissions, and more than half of that is from the fossil fuel industry.

Our addiction to sport utility vehicles contributed 24 million tonnes of CO2 to the nation’s total since 1990, an increase of more than 117 per cent. And the transportation sector is up 54.5 million tonnes since 1990.

Successive Canadian governments have done little to live up to our Kyoto commitment.

In fact, our current federal government has given up all pretense of interest in the issue.

It withdrew the nation from Kyoto, monkey-wrenched international efforts to blunt greenhouse gas emissions and is currently doing nothing at all to curb Canada’s production of atmosphere-polluting gases under the guise of waiting to find out what Washington is going to do.

That’s the government Canadians elected.

Riding our bike to work today is fine. But it would be more productive to think about the federal government, asking if it is reflecting your values.

If it is, put your bike away and drive.

To do otherwise may make you feel better, but it is hypocrisy of the highest order. (Richard Mostyn)