Alberta, Canada would pay minimal
economic costs under Kyoto: report
OTTAWA (CP) - The Kyoto Protocol could be enforced with
only slight economic costs, no loss of existing jobs, and no
disproportionate impact on Alberta, says a study done for the
federal government. The economy would grow by about 16 per
cent by 2010 with Kyoto implementation, compared to 18 per
cent under a business-as-usual scenario, according to economic
modelling made public Friday.
The economy would produce 1.26 million new jobs by 2010
with Kyoto, as opposed to 1.32 million under the status quo -
about 60,000 fewer jobs over eight years.
"The message is: modest impacts and evenly spread," said an
official who cannot be named under the rules of a technical
The model doesn't attempt to measure benefits associated
with Kyoto over the long term, such as fewer premature deaths
due to dirty air, or fewer extreme weather events.
It also assumes implementation with no increase in taxes
but with major investments in energy efficiency and
alternative fuels. Alberta's energy industry would continue to
grow thanks to an emissions trading system, officials said.
"What you'll find happening in Alberta is there's big
growth in the oil sand and there's new coal-based generating
plants coming on.
"What's really quite remarkable about the results in all of
this is how little Alberta is touched," said an official.
The study is vulnerable to criticism because it assumes
that Canada will cut emissions by 170 megatonnes rather than
the 240 megatonnes required to meet the Kyoto target.
When the modelling began, Ottawa was insisting on a
70-megatonne credit to offset its exports of so-called clean
energy exports to the United States. That credit now seems
unlikely in the face of European opposition.
Officials suggested the results of the study would not
change dramatically even without the 70-megatonne credit.
The study was done by two private firms, Informetrica and
Canadian Energy Research Institute, using their own economic
Federal officials readily admit that their model, like all
economic models, is based on many assumptions that could prove
incorrect. They said it nevertheless gives important clues as
to how a Kyoto implementation plan could best be designed.
Critics of Kyoto, especially in oil and gas-rich Alberta,
fear the unknown costs of cutting emissions.
But federal Environment Minister David Anderson said he's
not worried by Alberta's plan to draft laws to block Kyoto in
"Let me say unequivocally: that is not our concern at all,"
he said Friday outside the Commons.
Ottawa clearly has constitutional jurisdiction to push
nationwide solutions to global warming and other international
problems, Anderson said.
"We think there's plenty of precedents on the books on
this. When you're dealing with international matters of this
nature, you have to deal with the federal government.
"It's not a constitutional question - it's a question of
dealing with emitting industries."
Kyoto calls for Canada and most other major industrialized
countries to cut so-called greenhouse gases to six per cent
below 1990 levels by 2012.
The long-awaited federal plan is to be presented to
provincial environment ministers Oct. 21. Prime Minister Jean
Chretien has said he will ask Parliament to approve
ratification by the end of the year.
Patrick Monahan, a constitutional specialist at York
University's Osgoode Hall Law School, said Ottawa's power to
implement Kyoto will depend on how it tries to enforce
"It could take, for example, the form of subsidies or tax
breaks which are clearly a matter of federal jurisdiction,"
Ottawa could have a harder time justifying its jurisdiction
if it tries to take a more direct regulatory role with
measures that overlap provincial powers, he added.