Big biz freaked when the PM finally signalled his intention to implement the Kyoto Accord on greenhouse gas emissions. The ad that this country's biggest polluters signed in response is full of hot air.
Talk about doublespeak. Industry has long been saying that the feds should be the ones absorbing the cost of Kyoto, presumably through subsidies to big business. All of a sudden they're feigning concern that those same subsidies will cost taxpayers? Give us a break -- of the tax variety, preferably.
This claim can only be described as disingenuous. The "payments" being referred to here were included in the Kyoto Protocols to make reaching emissions-reduction targets less painful for big business. The "payments" are, in fact, credits. Under Kyoto, Canadian companies that invest in clean energy abroad can apply greenhouse gas reductions there to targets in Canada.
Ironic that Canuck companies should be talking about being put at a competitive disadvantage, when in every sector of the economy, bar none, U.S. companies are doing more, not less, than their Canuck counterparts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's safe to say that U.S. companies are not cutting harmful emissions to undercut their own competitiveness.
Since Kyoto was signed in 1997, no fewer than two dozen reports have cited the economic benefits that will flow -- a whopping $90 billion in business and investment opportunities -- from a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and investment in cleaner technologies. While certain sectors of the economy, particularly energy, will experience job losses, overall an additional 52,000 jobs will be created above regular job growth by 2012, the year Canada must meet its Kyoto targets.
We're as patriotic as the next guy, but this business about a "made-in-Canada" solution -- presumably in the name of saving jobs -- smacks of ass-covering. Fact is, the energy sector has been shedding jobs (more than 80,000 between 1990 and 98, including 7,000 in oil and gas in Alberta) in the name of corporate consolidation for the better part of the last decade. All during a period of rising oil and gas production and electric power generation. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, representing oil-patch workers, the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress all endorse Kyoto. Who's the real defender of jobs here?
Indeed, hundreds of companies have signed on to the government's voluntary register for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, many of them members of the very organizations sponsoring this ad, which makes their criticisms of Kyoto at this stage all the more curious. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business supports Kyoto. Other big companies that have turned to cleaner, more efficient ways of doing business, like oil giant BP, are realizing huge savings -- in BP's case, some $650 million U.S. since 1998.