Canadian greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction policies exaggerate the national role in global climate change at the expense of fossil fuel producers and consumers alike, according to a review by the Fraser Institute.
A new report by the private economic research agency calculates that the federal Liberal government's Paris Accord commitment would only make a microscopic difference to world temperature even if carbon emissions control hits the target.
The Canadian pledge, a 30% reduction to 523 million tons for the national emissions total, would be just a tiny fraction of the world total of 51 billion tons, said the institute.
"Global emissions after the Canadian reduction would be lowered by about four tenths of 1%," says the report, titled Assessing Canada's Energy Sector Competitiveness.
"If we apply the climate model used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for analysis of U.S. GHG policies, the temperature effect of the Canadian GHG reduction by 2100 would be less than three one-thousandths of a degree Celcius," said the institute.
"Because the standard deviation of the surface temperature record is about 0.11 degrees C, the temperature effect of the Canadian GHG reduction would not be measurable, and the same would be true of such ancillary effects as sea levels."
As a result, "this means that the climate impact of the Canadian policy will be very close to zero, so that any costs borne to achieve the intended GHG reductions will likely result in minimal environmental benefits," the report said.
Costs of the Canadian federal GHG reduction program include an intricate industry and consumer carbon pricing and tax plan, phasing out coal-burning power stations, controls on natural gas-fired replacements and methane emission cuts.
The Liberal government expanded regulations on oil and gas supply and pipeline development by passing a new Impact Assessment Act. The new legislation was set against protests from industry and governments of fossil fuel-producing provinces, the institute said.
"It is a far-reaching piece of legislation that includes subjective assessment criteria -- including the social impact of energy investment and its "gender" implications -- which will likely make the regulatory process more complicated and less certain."
The new act widens project reviews beyond the physical realm of environmental effects on land, air, water and wildlife to cover social issues such as health, "sustainability," climate change, women's rights and aboriginal participation.
The act also overhauls Canada’s federal regulatory apparatus. The National Energy Board (NEB) will be reorganized and renamed the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER). The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) will grow into the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) and take command of the regulatory landscape.
"Canada's energy sector is reeling from a combination of insufficient pipeline capacity and a barrage of new or expanded regulations," says the Fraser Institute.
"Overall, investors perceive Canada's tax and regulatory environments as onerous compared to many competing U.S. jurisdictions." The institute echoes critics of the federal Liberal government in current warm-up rounds for the October national election: "Easing the burdens of taxes and excessive oil and gas regulations should be a top priority for governments as they seek to restore competitiveness."