GOLDSTEIN: Trump trumps Trudeau in reducing greenhouse gases

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To understand the difference between climate change rhetoric and reality, consider this:

After four years of President Donald Trump, the United States is poised to meet and likely exceed its target of reducing its industrial greenhouse gas emissions linked to human-induced climate change to 17% below 2005 levels by the end of this year.

By contrast, after five years of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada is poised to miss the same target by a huge margin.

This despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, never imposed a national carbon tax on the U.S. (Nor has any American president done so.)

Also, despite the fact Trump, unlike Trudeau, announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement in 2017, saying it was contrary to the economic interests of the U.S..

Ironically, because of the formal process for withdrawing from the Paris deal, which Trudeau committed Canada to in 2015, America’s formal exit occurred the day after last month’s presidential election.

In 2009, then U.S. president Barack Obama and then Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper agreed to reduce their respective nations’ emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 under the Copenhagen climate accord.

According to Climate Analytics — an international, non-profit climate science and policy institute based in Germany and certainly no fan of Trump — U.S. “emissions projections for 2020 are 20%-21% below 2005 levels” exceeding America’s 17% target set in 2009.

By contrast, the Trudeau government has conceded it will miss Canada’s 2020 target by a massive margin.

Based on the latest available government data from 2018, Canada’s emissions are down only 0.14% from 2005 levels.

That means to meet Canada’s 2020 target, we would have to cut our current emissions by 123 million tonnes — the equivalent of the annual emissions from our entire agriculture sector and most of our electricity sector — in less than a month.

What this tells us is that political rhetoric doesn’t lower emissions — market forces, innovation and energy policy do.

The U.S., for example, freed up vast reserves of natural gas using hydraulic fracturing. That made it cheaper to replace coal-fired power plants with natural gas plants.

Natural gas burns at half the carbon dioxide intensity of coal, contributing to a significant decrease in U.S. emissions in recent years.

In Canada, by contrast, several provinces have banned fracking.