Sensing that Canadians are deeply concerned about a potential global warming threat, and that inaction will cost them at the polls, Canadas Conservative Stephen Harper government has announced a blueprint to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.
The government plans to force industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 18 per cent by 2010 and 26 per cent by 2015.
The price of cars, home appliances, electricity and fuel are expected to rise, but may be offset by technological innovation and the adoption of energy-efficient systems. (The Ontario government has already announced a phase-out of incandescent light bulbs, to be replaced by compact fluorescent bulbs [CFLs] by 2012. The government believes replacing all 87 million incandescent bulbs in Ontario households with CFLs will save six million megawatt hours annually — enough to power 600,000 homes.)
Environment Minister John Baird concedes the economy will take a hit of up to $8 billion annually in the worst year under the plan until 2020. But he claims that cleaner air will result in health-care savings of more than $6 billion annually, by 2015, courtesy of reduced risk of death and respiratory illness.
Industrys 26 per cent reduction target by 2015 is expected to be met through reduced emissions, contributions to a technology fund, domestic emissions trading and a one-time credit for emissions reduction action between 1992 and 2006.
Highlights of the government plan include:
— Short-term emission reduction target of 18 per cent for existing industry by 2010, based on 2006 emission levels.
— A 26 per cent reduction target rate for industry by 2015.
— Canadas total emissions, including industry and other sources, reduced by 20 per cent by 2020.
— Industry can meet targets through reducing emissions, contributing to a technology fund, through domestic emissions trading and one-time credit for emission reduction action between 1992 and 2006.
— Plan predicts real but manageable price increases for cars, home appliances, electricity and fuel.
— National emission caps by 2012 for air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter.
— Plan predicts $6.4 billion in annual health benefits by 2015 from reduced risk of death and illness.
— Mandatory fuel-efficiency standard for the auto industry (yet to be determined) to take effect beginning with 2011 model year.
— Economy expected to a hit of $8 billion in worst year of plan.
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