Bloomberg solution may be the best bet for Keystone XL and the climate

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, now the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for cities and climate change, and a senior environmental activist, has proposed a solution to the Keystone XL pipeline impasse which GallonDaily finds quite appealing, possibly even falling into that nebulous category of win-win.

In an opinion article published on the blog BloombergView, Bloomberg comments:

  • The Keystone XL pipeline has become a perfect symbol of Washington’s dysfunction. Democrats exaggerate its environmental impact while Republicans exaggerate its economic benefits.
  • Ignoring carbon pollution is disastrous for public health, and ignoring the risks associated with climate change is environmentally and economically foolish.
  • [Canadian pressure for the pipeline] gives the White House enormous leverage, which it should use to negotiate a broader, climate-friendly deal that far more than offsets the potential impact of the pipeline.
  • A U.S.-Canada agreement would position Canada as a leader on climate change, while also delivering a big economic boost to its economy. Here in the U.S., Republicans in Congress could declare economic victory, while Democrats could declare environmental victory. The president could declare both, while also burnishing his foreign policy legacy and building momentum for the conference in Paris.

The complete Bloomberg article can be read at http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-25/mike-bloomberg-keystone-xl-solution-runs-through-Canada. It is short and very much to the point.

To Bloomberg’s message, GallonDaily would add:

  • Pipelines, though far from fool or spill proof, are an environmentally safer and lower energy way of transporting liquids such as oil than railcars.
  • Not building KeyStone XL is not going to halt expansion of the Canadian tar sands activities. Indeed, not building Keystone XL will almost certainly mean that tar sands oil contributes even greater greenhouse gas emissions, if for no other reason than that much of the production will be railroaded or pipelined to the east coast from where it will be shipped to Europe and beyond. While petroleum products are still being used it would be better to use local reserves and to reduce imports from half way around the world than to take Canadian production and ship it half way around the world.
  • While it is true that extraction and processing of tar sands oil produces more GHG emissions and other environmental effects than conventional oil extraction, it is this very fact that could contribute significant leverage to a Canada-US agreement.

Building on the Bloomberg proposal, GallonDaily suggests that President Obama should contact Prime Minister Harper and propose that Canada and the US negotiate a climate change agreement which would include:

  • real, absolute, additional and permanent reduction of GHG emissions in the Canadian economy at least equal to, and tracking in perpetuity, the additional emissions resulting from extraction of tar sands crude, effective no later than 2020.
  • a commitment by Canada to live up to its 2010 Copenhagen Accord commitment to achieve a 2020 economy-wide target of a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels.
  • a commitment to cooperate on global leadership in GHG reductions at an accelerated rate with a target of at least a 70% reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by 2050.
  • a commitment by Canada to achieve an acceptable level of social responsibility in the Athabasca region, particularly by eliminating environmental emissions of persistent toxic chemicals from tar sands activities.

As Michael Bloomberg has stated in his article:

A U.S.-Canada agreement would position Canada as a leader on climate change, while also delivering a big economic boost to its economy. Here in the U.S., Republicans in Congress could declare economic victory, while Democrats could declare environmental victory. The president could declare both, while also burnishing his foreign policy legacy and building momentum for the conference in Paris.

GallonDaily would like to hope that Prime Minister Harper could be engaged by such an overture from the U.S. President as part of a deal to approve Keystone XL. Unfortunately . . .

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