Kyoto protocol and the Montreal protocol

The Kyoto Protocol may have been modeled on the Montreal Protocol which required wealthy nations to abandon chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) while allowing less developed nations to continue using them (Wealthy must go first, 8 June), but there the similarity ends.

In the 1970s, industry had alternatives to CFCs for refrigeration and propellants; furthermore, the technology to collect CFCs from abandoned refrigerators was quite straightforward to implement. For most consumers, CFC replacement was transparent&emdash;a refrigerator performed the same task with the alternatives to CFCs.

The same cannot be said for finding replacements for carbon-intensive fossil fuels, notably coal, oil, and natural gas. The changes in energy consumption patterns that must take place in order to achieve the necessary reductions in carbon dioxide emissions will not be transparent to the consumer, as they will impact every aspect of the way we live. The sooner Canadians are aware of this, the sooner the long process of emissions reduction can begin.

Submitted to Globe and Mail, 16 July 2007. Unpublished