“The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.”
Now the WHO “Fact” doesn’t jibe with the gibberish that has come from our current and past Ontario energy ministers. A look at Bob Chiarelli’s latest rendition of Ontario’s long-term energy plan, “Achieving Balance” has this quote in the “Minister’s Message”:
“The phase out of coal is the single largest climate change initiative in North America. Coal use had accounted for $4.4 billion per year in financial, health and environmental costs.”
That reputed annual $4.4 billion cost to our health and environmental systems due to “climate change” have been held up numerous times by Liberal politicians as the reason we needed to shut down the coal plants. The dollar value was the lead-in to the creation of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act and the commitment to plant industrial wind turbines wherever the developers could find a few open acres and a gullible land owner, or two, willing to lease their land for a few dollars. As a result, Ontario has the highest industrial electricity prices for electricity in North America and is vying to have the highest residential rates. The rhetoric behind the fiction of the costs has appeared in the mainstream and social media, in the legislature, and of course in all of the ENGO’s (environmental non-government organizations) pontifications on their websites, in their brochures and in their leader’s speeches! The word started and spread from the mouths of the Ontario Liberals and seems to have been accepted as a proven fact, similar to the belief in “climate change”! Further examples follow:
In the Legislature sitting of December 9, 2013 in response to a question from the NDP’s energy critic, Peter Tabuns, Minister Chiarelli provided this response:
“We’ve totally abolished dirty coal-burning generation. That takes $4.4 billion off the bottom line of the province’s expenses in environmental and health care costs.”
Its not just the energy ministers who stick with that $4.4-billion-dollar claim. A press release from Premier Wynne’s office on November 21, 2013 welcoming Al Gore to Ontario, (similar to the WHO Fact Sheet) included a list of “Quick Facts,” one of which states:
“According to an independent study, Ontario’s coal-fired power plants cost the people of Ontario an estimated $4.4 billion per year in health, environmental, and financial damages.”
The current Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deb Matthews also recently chimed in stating:
“Thanks to our collective efforts to eliminate coal we have prevented premature deaths, avoided unnecessary hospital admissions, and saved precious health care dollars that can be re-invested elsewhere to benefit patients.
Those “precious health care” dollars of $4.4 billion don’t appear to have improved wait times or health services in the province, so are they fictitious?
Now if one travels back to the Legislative Assembly of June 6, 2005 we find the first evidence of when the claim first appeared.
Responding to a question from John O’Toole, MPP Durham, from the mouth of the Minister of Energy, Dwight Duncan, it was uttered perhaps for the first time: “I urge restraint. I urge that people understand the true cost associated with coal-powered generation: more than $4.4 billion to our health care system, to children’s health. Let me be unequivocal and say without hesitation that, unlike the member opposite, this government has laid out a plan for closing down all of the coal-fired generation stations in this province.”
Nine days later Premier McGuinty’s office issued a lengthy 2,400 word press release headlined: “McGuinty Government Unveils Bold Plan To Clean Up Ontario’s Air” in which the following can be found: “A cost benefit analysis released in April uncovered massive health and environmental costs from coal-fired generation. The study found emissions from all coal-fired stations were responsible for up to 668 premature deaths, 928 hospital admissions and 1,100 emergency room visits in Ontario per year. It also found that with an annual cost of $4.4 billion, coal-fired generation is significantly more expensive than other sources of electricity.”
The germination of that $4.4 billion dollar figure in health costs caused by coal generation was the 2005 study prepared by DSS Management Consultants Inc/RWDI Inc and commissioned by Dwight Duncan when he sat in the Energy chair. The study used 2004 levels of production when coal generation peaked at 26.8 terawatts (TWh); enough to power 2.8 million “average” Ontario households. The study used four (4) scenarios of which the first was based on 2004 levels of production and each scenario carried a range of “annual health damages” as noted in this excerpt:
“The average annual health damages (Table I-4) range from a low of $0.4 billion for Scenario 3 (Nuclear/Gas) to a high of $3.0 billion for Scenario 1 (Base Case). In other words, implementing Scenario 3 would result in an annual average health benefit (i.e., avoided health damages) of $2.6 billion.”
The $4.4 billion figure in “Scenario 1” included “financial costs” of the coal plants which were estimated as $985 million and $371 million in “environmental costs” but the latter $1.4 billion were included in the Liberal scare tactics associated with pushing their agenda through. The other three scenarios had financial and environmental costs associated with them ranging from a high of $2.1 billion for “all gas” to $1.4 billion for stringent controls on the coal plants.
The other interesting aspect of the study is that the Liberals failed to ever acknowledge the study’s disclaimer: “In actual fact, it is impossible to identify which specific deaths that occur over a given period of time are actually attributable to air pollution. Air pollution is a contributory factor in a multitude of deaths and is almost never the overriding or irrefutable single cause of death.”
It now appears the World Health Organization has irrefutably condemned the Ontario Liberal claim’s to the dustbin by stating that by 2030, 16 years hence, the estimated costs to health globally will be US$2-4 billion by the year 2030 meaning the Ontario Liberal’s claim that Ontario suffered health costs of $4.4 billion in 2004 some 26 years before the WHO forecast are a pure fabrication without substance!
So who should we believe, our Ontario’s Liberal politicians or the World Health Organization?
Parker Gallant is a retired bank executive and a former director of Energy Probe Research Foundation. As with all independent bloggers on this site, Parker’s views do not necessarily reflect those of Energy Probe.