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Climate Change gets short shrift

Toronto Star

The recent move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to curb polluting emissions from coal-fired power plants is welcome. Much of the smog in the Greater Toronto Area is attributable to wind-blown sulphur dioxides and nitrogen oxides from power plants in the midwestern United States. As reported Thursday by the Mitch Potter, by 2014 American utilities will be required to cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 52 per cent and nitrogen oxides by 71 per cent under the new EPA rules released this month. But the scrubbers that remove these pollutants will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the form of carbon dioxide. So smog will be reduced, but not the emissions that cause global warming. (To answer the climate change skeptics, more than 300 scientists this week released a new report confirming that the Earth is hotter than ever.) New technology — called “carbon capture and storage” — is being developed to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. But it is very expensive and nowhere near being implemented on a large scale.

That’swhysomejurisdictions—includingOntario—havedecidedto get out of burning coal altogether. Ontario’s coal-fired power plants are due to close in 2014. Unfortunately, the national governments in both Canada and the U.S. are not stepping up to meet the climate change challenge. U.S. President Barack Obama came to office pledging to take action against global warming. But he has been stymied by a recalcitrant Congress, where the Republicans and some Democrats (from coalproducing or burning states) are in deep denial about the reality of climate change. Meanwhile in Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who once called the Kyoto accord “a socialist scheme” and expressed doubts about the science behind climate change, has abdicated leadership on the file to the U.S. That is to say the Harper government is doing nothing. Into this vacuum are striding some provinces and states — Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, California and New Mexico. They have established a cap-and-trade system called the “Western Climate Initiative.” The system will impose caps on large industrial emitters within their jurisdictions. Companies that exceed the cap will buy credits from those that fall below. The target date for implementation is 2012, with Manitoba, Washington and Oregon joining later. The problem is that the system will not include such major emitting jurisdictions as Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana in the U.S. They will only be dragged into a cap-and-trade program kicking and screaming — by their respective national governments, which aren’t interested. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise, and the world will keep on getting warmer.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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