Ontario Liberals finally admit they’ve reduced power emissions: Duncan adviser gives the atom its due

Few have noticed so far, but the Ontario Liberals gave a hint yesterday about their communication strategy for the upcoming provincial election campaign. Energy Minister Dwight Duncan’s senior adviser Steve Erwin told the Toronto Star that Ontario has been reducing the emissions from its coal-fired plants by using them less as refurbished nuclear power units come back on line.

So, while the current provincial Conservative TV ads point out what a sterling fellow is their leader John Tory, the Liberals are gearing up to deliver what could be the zinger line in the upcoming election campaign: “we slashed air pollution emissions by 15 million tonnes.”

Fifteen million tonnes? Shouldn’t that be twelve million tonnes? Readers will note, after all, that I have been hammering away on the 12 million tonne theme for months now. I base this on the fact that four nuclear reactors have returned to service since 2003, and that they displaced coal generation—the primary source of Ontario’s power-sector emissions.

Well, both figures are true. Power-sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were roughly 30 million tonnes in 2006, which is around 12 million tonnes less than in 2000. And, due to a recent change in Environment Canada’s GHG calculation formula for power generation, it now turns out that Ontario’s power-sector emissions in 2003 were 45 million tonnes. (See Environment Canada’s GHG inventory for Ontario electricity.)

Which means the McGuinty Liberals could credibly claim that they have knocked a whopping 15 million tonnes off Ontario’s electricity sector GHG inventory since they came to power.

And the Tories could with equal credibility claim that the reduction was due to their efforts, since they began the nuclear renaissance in Ontario by approving the Pickering unit 4 rehabilitation in 2000.

It’ll be interesting to see how the parties play this. Stay tuned.

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[…] It has been clear for some time that McGuinty & co. have run out of ideas about how to peddle their environmental record to bored Ontario voters. And their enthusiasm for Flick Off suggests they’re more than a little star struck by Sir Richard—hey, it happens to teenagers all the time. But are they really going to hang their environmental “repositioning” on a pseudo-edgy ad campaign commissioned by a zillionaire celebrity? Why don’t they just point to the massive emission reductions that have occurred under their watch (see article)? […]