Dr. John Hollins, past Chair of CACOR, presents an Oped.
Re: By international standards, the Liberals’ climate-change bill is underwhelming
Climate accountability on the face of it sounds like a good idea. The problem is that the Government of Canada does not understand what it is doing. It doesn’t know how to set a target that it could actually hit. Its thinking is rooted in economics, re-election, and not much else.
The issue derives from the invention in 1776 by Glaswegian James Watt of the first efficient steam engine, to pump water out of mines in Cornwall. Watt opened the door to the ever-accelerating combustion of fossil fuels to deliver practically useful energy to drive an expanding panoply of technologies. The problem has been evolving for two and a half centuries; it will not be resolved with economic analysis with a horizon of a few years.
Canada’s policy is not informed by science and technology. And that despite the fact that effective computational tools to explore the technologies of energy and economic systems have been available for three decades. Some NGOs have used powerful Canadian tools to examine province by province how rapidly Canada could actually reduce its emissions. They know that there is no possible pathway in practice for Canada to hit its 2030 Paris target. Net zero at the moment is a pipe dream. Legislation is irrelevant until government understands what is practically possible in the real world.
Dr. Hollins was Canadian delegate to the IEA Programme of Energy Technology Systems Analysis for a decade and a half.