Prime Minister Harper should be careful how he calculates "intensity", specifically "carbon intensity", in his new greenhouse gas emissions policy. If Canada's carbon intensity is expressed in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents per million dollars of GDP, Canadians can take heart in the fact that national carbon intensity has already declined from 650 tonnes in 1990 to 568 tonnes in 2004. Using NRCan's recent energy outlook, Canada's carbon intensity will decline even further, to 466 tonnes by 2020.
On the other hand, using Canada's population rather than GDP results in an increasing carbon intensity, from 16.6 tonnes per person in 1990 to 18.6 in 2004, to an estimated 20.2 in 2020.
Clearly, there will be some carbon intensity ratios that Mr. Harper will be trying to avoid.
Published, Globe and Mail, 12 October 2006