Canada may already be carbon neutral, so why are we keeping it a secret?
F. Larry Martin, Special to Financial Post | March 2, 2016
Here’s a seemingly simple question: Is Canada a net carbon dioxide emitter? You would think so from reading news headlines. We’ve earned the scorn of environmentalists, NGOs, and media outlets galore, labelled with such juvenile epithets as “fossil of the year” or “corrupt petro-state.”
Sadly, lost in all the hyperbole is the actual science. There is nothing quantitative about the vague idea that, as a “progressive nation,” Canada should be expected to “do more” to fight climate change.
But therein lies the rub; Canada is poised to immediately do more to combat climate change than almost every other country in the world. How, you ask? Well, by doing more of the same. If that sounds ludicrous, let me explain.
Most Canadians would agree that our response to climate change needs to be scientifically sound, environmentally sustainable and financially realistic, as well as global, comprehensive, and holistic. Right now, our approach is none of those things; the public discourse is driven by a myopic, ideological obsession with carbon emissions alone. What else is there, you ask?
The answer comes from the most recent report (2014) of the Global Carbon Project, which states that global human-induced CO2 emissions were 36 billion tonnes. Of that, 36 per cent stayed in the atmosphere, 27 per cent was absorbed by water, and 37 per cent was absorbed by land.
That’s right — absorbed by land! Not all CO2 emitted by people stays in the atmosphere. Much of it returns to the earth, mainly through the carbon absorption and sequestration power of plants, soil, and trees.