Canada’s carbon-tied economy is turning the country into one of the greatest threats to restabilizing the climate. It’s also threatening to blow up the national economy, suggests Barry Saxifrage in the National Observer.
Rolling together all “the fossil fuels dug from the ground last year in Canada,” Saxifrage asserts that the solvency of the Canadian economy relies on the sale of products containing the equivalent of 32 tonnes of CO2 for each Canadian citizen—“twice as much as Americans, five times as much as the Chinese, and 10 times as much as the European Union.”
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Only “a few OPEC nations like Kuwait, Qatar and the Saudis are even more carbon-exposed per capita than Canada,” he observes. “Other OPEC nations such as Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, and Libya extract half as much carbon pollution per capita as we do.
“Bottom line: Canada is one of the world’s dozen largest carbon pollution extractors per capita, and we are certainly at the extreme end among our major economy peers.”
Since 1990, Saxifrage adds, the United States has slightly reduced its per capita extraction of greenhouse gas-releasing fossil fuels. Canada’s extraction has soared, with plans to expand it further. “Our increase alone dwarfs the entire total of most major economies. Clearly, we aren’t just doing what everyone else is. Instead, we are supersizing our CO2 extraction, and with it our climate impact and our carbon dependency.”
Two forces are working against Canada’s bet on fossil fuels, Saxifrage writes. One is the planet’s awakening to the need to stabilize the climate “to save humanity”. The other is the falling price of cleaner technology.
“Some people I talk to about our extreme carbon dependency say it is just ‘politically impossible’ for political leaders to transition our economy to one that aligns with a safe climate,” he notes. “My response is: ‘How do we know?’ No leader in power has really tried to explain the situation to Canadians and then lead discussions on alternatives.”