October 7, 2004 : Federal Cabinet’s Immigration Policy 1, Federal Cabinet’s Environment Policy 0

Federal Immigration Policy Negates Federal Environment Policy

As you are probably aware, the OECD released its “Review of Canada’s Environmental Performance” late last week.

Although the OECD gave Canada a “Good Progress” rating, it also said there was “much to be done”.

Among the “much to be done” are reductions in CO2 emissions. The OECD noted that Canada’s CO2 emissions had risen in the 1990’s. To date, there has been almost a 15% increase. Earth Trends, a division of the World Resources Institute, (earthtrends.wri.org) reports that each Canadian produces about 15 tonnes of CO2 per year. Significant amounts of these emissions are the result of Canadians dealing with cold winters and long distances.

A number of critics have pointed out that Canada has never developed much of a plan to comply with the Kyoto Accord. In addition, critics have pointed out that Canada’s population continues to grow.

For example, according to Earth Trends, in 1990, Canada’s population of slightly over 28 million produced roughly 430 million tonnes of CO2. In 1998, Canada’s population of 30 million produced 467 tonnes of CO2. Using these figures to project to 2004, Canada’s current population of 32 illion will produce close to 490 million tonnes of CO2, an increase of roughly 60 million tonnes in 14 years.

The major factor in Canada’s increased population is immigration. The federal government recently announced that it would maintain immigration levels at current 230,000+ levels, although it continues to provide no evidence for the high levels. The longer Canada pursues these excessive immigration levels, the further away Canada gets from its Kyoto committment. (The 1% immigration level proposed by the Liberal Red Book and the 400,000+ immigration level proposed by supposedly environment-friendly parties are even more excessive.) Please recall that under the Kyoto Accord, Canada said it would reduce its CO2 emissions to 6% below 1990 levels. This means that, in order to meet obligations, Canada will have to reduce current CO2 emissions by about 20%.

With current or proposed immigration policies, and a CO2 emission rate of 15 tonnes per person per year, Canada will produce roughly an extra 4 to 6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year through immigration alone.

The major point to be made is that federal immigration policy and federal environment policy are in competition with one another and contradict one another. In effect, immigration policy negates environmental policy. Gains made in conservation are nullified by bringing in more people.

Canada cannot commit itself to a policy of getting control of greenhouse emissions if it has made no commitment to controlling/reducing immigration levels. As long as Canada’s population continues to increase in the way it has over the past 15 years, primarily because of unwise and unjustifiably high immigration levels, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions will increase.

The unwise like to depend on technology to save them, but chances are that technology will not perform the rescue. However, there is a good chance that wisdom will. Reducing the annual immigration intake to 50,000 and using some of the billions (currently being thrown away on immigration/refugee policies) to increase foreign aid, would be a significant and appropriate first step.

Canada needs a large measure of good judgement applied in this minority government’s handling of the immigration and environment issues. These issues have not seen much wisdom over the past 15 years and they are in desperate need of it.