By Chris Sorensen - Friday, May 17, 2013 - 0 Comments
Celebrated partnerships like the Boreal Forest Agreement are crumbling. Can corporations and NGOs really work together to save the environment?
Rachel Plotkin is well-acquainted with the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay, Ont. A science-project manager for the David Suzuki Foundation, Plotkin has spent more days than she cares to count holed up in one of the hotel’s meeting rooms with representatives from local logging companies and fellow environmental groups. They are trying to hammer out a conservation plan for a four-million-hectare section of boreal forest in northwestern Ontario, and the thousands of woodland caribou that call it home.
Their work represents a sliver of the sweeping Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement signed in 2010 by 21 forestry companies and nine non-governmental organizations, or NGOs. In a bid to put decades of pitched battles behind them, the two sides pledged to jointly develop conservation and sustainable land-use plans for 76 million hectares of mostly untouched forest that stretches from Quebec to British Columbia. But progress has been painfully slow. With the agreement’s three-year anniversary barely a week away on May 18, the two sides have yet to offer much in the way of concrete results.
Angry with the glacial pace, two of the original signatories, Greenpeace Canada and Canopy, have dropped out of the pact, blaming the forestry companies for dragging their feet. The industry, on the other hand, accuses Greenpeace and others for being impatient and unrealistic with their demands. “We understand that this is very complex,” says Plotkin, who remains hopeful a breakthrough will be reached. “But our patience is wearing thin.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 2:28 PM - 0 Comments
Canada’s oil sands are already subject to provincial regulations that are driving investment in new environmental research and bringing emissions down through technological innovation. Alberta has regulations that require large oil sands operators to either reduce emissions or contribute money toward innovative research to improve the environmental performance of the industry.
Indeed, the Alberta government has a “Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund” that prices carbon emissions at $15 per tonne. And Peter Kent recently seemed to suggest that this wasn’t a completely terrible thing.
Amid reports that Alberta might be prepared to increase that price, Erica Alini explained the province’s system last month.
By The Associated Press - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 7:41 PM - 0 Comments
Experts say ‘we’re stuck’ with global warming
WASHINGTON – The old saying that “what goes up must come down” doesn’t apply to carbon dioxide pollution in the air, which just hit an unnerving milestone.
The chief greenhouse gas was measured Thursday at 400 parts per million in Hawaii, a monitoring site that sets the world’s benchmark. It’s a symbolic mark that scientists and environmentalists have been anticipating for years.
While this week’s number has garnered all sorts of attention, it is just a daily reading in the month when the chief greenhouse gas peaks in the Northern Hemisphere. It will be lower the rest of the year. This year will probably average around 396 ppm. But not for long — the trend is going up and at faster and faster rates.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM - 0 Comments
The last three weeks for the Natural Resources Minister have been fun.
Vs. James Hansen, April 24.
A leading climate change activist and former NASA scientist is “crying wolf” with his “exaggerated” comments about the effects of oilsands development on the environment, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver charged Wednesday … ”It does not advance the debate when people make exaggerated comments that are not rooted in the facts. And he should know that,” Oliver said to reporters, following a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Vs. James Hansen, April 24.
I couldn’t help myself: I asked Oliver what he thought of Hansen’s willingness to chain himself to the White House fence to protest the pipeline. He couldn’t help himself either. Given the dirty oil in California, he replied, “he should be chaining himself to a mannequin in Rodeo Drive.”
Vs. Al Gore, May 6.
Oliver told CTV’s Power Play Monday that Gore’s remarks were “over the top,” but he doesn’t think the prominent Democrat’s criticism will have an impact on Keystone’s approval in the U.S … “I think that what is happening here is that, as the decision approaches, some of the more strident voices in opposition to the development of hydrocarbons are out there with their exaggerated, over the top comments,” Oliver said in a phone interview from Europe, where he’s lobbying against proposed legislation that would require a reduction in the greenhouse gas intensity of vehicle fuels.
Vs. the European Union, May 9.
Canada’s Natural Resources Minister is raising the prospect of a trade fight with the European Union over its proposal to label oil-sands crude as dirty even as both sides try to seal a major deal to liberalize two-way … “This fuel-quality directive is discriminatory towards Canadian oil and not supported by scientific facts,” Mr. Oliver said.
Vs. some concerned scientists, May 9.
He also took a swipe at a group of scientists who have sent him an open letter raising concerns about the environmental impact of pushing ahead with pipelines and other oil projects. Mr. Oliver said every major resource project has been opposed by some groups. “The position of these scientists is unfortunately unrealistic in the real world because what they want to do is to see a diminution of the use of hydrocarbons and they look upon the oil sands as a symbol, as an example of that,” he said adding that the global demand for energy will increase by 33 per cent over the next 25 years. “Even under the most optimistic scenarios for renewables, hydrocarbons, fossil fuels, will represent at least 63 per cent of the source of energy by the year 2035. So we have to be realistic. The world needs energy.”
Vs. Marc Jaccard, May 10.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as desperate,” Oliver said of the recent barrage of federal emissaries travelling the globe to talk up Canada’s oilsands in the face of projects like the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Rather, he said, it’s oilsands opponents who are starting to sound panicky. “It’s pretty clear that opponents are getting desperate, hence the shrillness of their arguments, the hyperbole and the exaggeration that we’re hearing from some sources.” …
At the same time, Mark Jaccard, one of Canada’s leading energy economists, is about to take a European tour of his own — to denounce the federal government’s penchant for pipelines at a time when they have no solid plan to reduce emissions from the oilsands. Jaccard’s arguments only serve to undermine Canadian and global prosperity, Oliver said, because they would result in a shortage of affordable energy. “I think there are some people who really have a vision of the world which isn’t realistic,” he said. “They would like to see the world powered by alternative energy. I think that would be great if it could be achieved, but it can’t be entirely, or even to a majority extent.”
By Maria Babbage, The Canadian Press - Monday, May 6, 2013 at 2:30 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – The federal and Ontario governments are reviewing a ruling by the World…
TORONTO – The federal and Ontario governments are reviewing a ruling by the World Trade Organization that made-in-Ontario provisions of the province’s green energy laws contravene international guidelines.
But there are no immediate plans to change the legislation, Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said Monday.
The legislation has created tens of thousands of jobs in the province, he said, but wouldn’t say whether the WTO ruling could grind that to a halt.
“Our officials are assessing that at this particular point in time,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM - 0 Comments
It’s very true that oil companies are not charitable organizations–which is why it’s not a good idea to make policy based on the assumption that they will passively absorb the costs of new regulations. It’s not at all obvious why firms would pass along the costs of a carbon price but not the (larger) costs of regulation.
Meanwhile, Ryan Leef is being criticized for the information he has distributed on the polar bear population. And Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver received a rebuke from the scientist—now a Green candidate in British Columbia—he had previously cited. (Andrew Weaver is also a fan of taxing carbon.)
In other news, the NDP motion that initiated last Thursday’s debate was defeated last night and various New Democrats took to Twitter to criticize Elizabeth May for voting against. Ms. May responded with a lengthy explanation of her problems with the motion.
I would have loved to have seen a unified group of MPs from all the Opposition Parties rise on principle and (hoping against hope) some of the Conservatives who understand the need for climate action might have voted with us to give the Parliamentary call for reductions in GHG a chance of passing. But since tonight’s motion forgot to call for climate action, maybe we could take a run at a properly worded motion another day.
There does exist, it should be noted, a multi-partisan climate change caucus. And Mr. Leef is one Conservative who attended its most recent meeting.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 6:32 PM - 0 Comments
It was just two weeks ago, asked about Alberta’s carbon tax, that Peter Kent was moved to muse aloud about a contentious and contested topic. “There hasn’t,” he ventured, “been a great deal of subtlety in talking about carbon pricing.”
Perhaps this lack of subtlety is something like the root cause of our current impasse. Or perhaps this is no time for nuance.
The foreign press is now referring to Joe Oliver as the Canadian “oil minister, which is terribly unfair to the trees and rocks and water he is also responsible for making use of. Of a year-old op-ed, Mr. Oliver is accusing a NASA scientist of “crying wolf” and suggesting that James Hansen ”should be chaining himself to a mannequin in Rodeo Drive,” which would be pointless unless the mannequin was itself nailed down. And now another scientist is likening Mr. Oliver to “a Shetland pony in the Kentucky Derby,” who is “making Canada look like a country full of jerks,” which is terribly unfair to at least the three or four of us who aren’t.
It was on something like this note that Mr. Mulcair stood to harangue the government side this afternoon. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:05 PM - 0 Comments
Backloading failed because even in very green Europe, economic concerns seemed to trump environmental ones. European Parliamentary members worried that any action that would cause the price of carbon to rise would add to European industry’s already high energy costs. Europe, unlike the U.S., doesn’t have relatively cheap, relatively clean natural gas to help cushion that blow. At the same time, European nations like Germany are rethinking some of their renewable energy policies, concerned by the rising cost of electricity. It looks like a textbook example of what Roger Pielke Jr. calls the “iron law of climate policy“: when climate policy starts to hurt economically, even the greenest states start to back away.
It’s possible that backloading may get a second chance before the European Parliament, and even without a viable carbon market, Europe is still the global leader in climate action. Nor is the ETS the only game in town. California launched its own cap-and-trade system this year—though that’s come under political pressure as well—and Australia has introduced a price on carbon. China may do so as well. But the hope that we may be able to reduce carbon emissions the same way we cut pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide—through a well-run cap-and-trade —seems to be dimming, a victim of its own complexity and a sluggish global economy. That might leave the door open for other policies, including a straight carbon tax, more support for renewables or increases R&D funding for carbon-free power. We could use all three, but carbon markets may be finished. If carbon trading can’t make it in Europe, it can’t make it anywhere.
China is apparently undeterred.
The developments in Europe might be interpreted in one of two ways: either it is evidence that carbon markets won’t work or it puts the onus on those who propose carbon markets to explain how their proposal accounts for the shortcomings of the European system.
There is, it seems to me, another looming issue, another one which the NDP will have to account for. Let’s say that, by 2015, British Columbia has expanded its carbon tax (as the BC NDP currently proposes), Alberta has increased its carbon tax (as the Progressive Conservative government there seems to be considering), Quebec has a cap-and-trade system linked with California (as both jurisdictions are moving towards) and, say, one other province has implemented a carbon-pricing mechanism of some kind (Manitoba? Ontario? Newfoundland?). How then does the NDP reconcile its proposal for a national cap-and-trade system with all of that? What do the Liberals—Mr. Trudeau having offered vague support for a price on carbon—propose? Do we end up with a number of different approaches—carbon taxes, carbon markets and regulatory regimes—functioning within the country? Does that make sense? Is it feasible or political possible to build a national carbon-pricing mechanism, or at least a national approach that takes into account provincial jurisdiction?
Jean Charest thinks the country is headed towards a carbon tax. Somewhere Stephane Dion is either nodding grimly or screaming.
Update 4:19pm. Further to this post, I sent along a question to the NDP side: How would an NDP government reconcile a national cap-and-trade system with provincial jurisdictions that already have carbon-pricing mechanisms? The response from Thomas Mulcair’s office is as follows.
We will deal with this as we’ll deal with every other issues of shared responsibility: by cooperation.
I’ve asked a few smart people if they have any thoughts on the way forward and hope to post those in the next while.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
The most immediate concern is, then, that the current approach will fall significantly short of yielding the reductions required to meet Canada’s stated target (17% below 2005 levels by 2020). Indeed, there is presently no basis for a serious claim that we will meet our Copenhagen commitment. Current Environment Canada projections are for a 113 megatonnes shortfall in reduction by 2020 (that is assuming that all the measures and regulations that governments across Canada are putting in place have the desired effect). That would mean that we will have succeeded in reducing emissions compared to 2005 levels by only 20 megatonnes or less than 3%.15 No government could be proud of such ‘achievement’.
Unfortunately, constructive dialogue on how we might reduce the gap has ceased, and name-calling has taken its place. Carbon pricing of any type is characterized as a ‘tax on everything’. This serves neither the goals of the government nor the well-being of Canadians, particularly since it is far from clear that the targets to which we are committed are adequate for the long term.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 15, 2013 at 9:28 AM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Press notes the recent visits of Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Environment Minister Peter Kent to the Washington, DC.
In separate appearances and meetings, Kent and Redford both stressed that Canada was taking climate change very seriously and that strong measures were in the works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector … Gone was the federal talk about any form of carbon pricing being akin to a carbon tax that would raise the price of everything. Indeed, Kent took pains to stress that while Ottawa likes its regulatory approach to emissions, he was open to provinces setting up their own plans — as long as such arrangements lead to actual reductions in emissions.
So the Harper government might believe that putting a price on carbon is a terrible idea, but it respects provincial jurisdiction enough to refrain from criticizing provincial governments that decide to implement cap-and-trade systems or carbon taxes. That’s an entirely admirable and mature approach to federalism.
Peter Kent explains…
“There hasn’t been a great deal of subtlety in talking about carbon pricing…
… There are those carbon taxes where the revenues go into general revenue and do not guarantee the reduction of a single ton of greenhouse gases. (But) Alberta has a tech fund wherein their revenues are focused only, and in isolation, on technology to achieve further ghg reductions than the emitters in that province are already able to achieve.”
Less than a year ago, Mr. Kent ventured that “carbon pricing in any form is a carbon tax.” There would not seem to have been any subtlety left at that point, at least so far as the Conservatives were concerned. A few months later, Conservative MP John Williamson explained that “cap and trade or cap and tax, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon.”
Over the subsequent weeks and months, the Conservatives have repeatedly criticized the NDP’s plan to implement a cap-and-trade system: saying, for instance, that ”a carbon tax like the NDP is proposing would critically hurt Canadian families” and that “the economy would be lost and family would be lost” and that “this costly new tax that will kill jobs, stall the economy and ruin winter” and so on.
So what is Mr. Kent saying now? Is he saying that carbon taxes aren’t necessarily bad? Is he saying that Alberta’s carbon tax is somehow okay or at least somehow less ruinous?
Let’s go back to CP’s report of last Wednesday—when CP paraphrased Mr. Kent as saying the federal government is not against carbon pricing. Here is what Mr. Kent was quoted as saying in that piece.
“I’m saying that carbon taxes where the taxes go into general revenues…
The general “revenue” argument is not new, but I’m still not sure how that matters if, in Mr. Kent’s opinion, any price on carbon is equivalent to a carbon tax and if, as it seems the government wishes to convey, a carbon tax is an inherently bad idea. Unless, again, we’re allowing now that a price on carbon isn’t necessarily a terrible thing…
…, as the NDP’s would, for social engineering, not for the reduction of (greenhouse gases)…
This particular matter of revenue is perhaps an interesting and worthwhile nuance to explore: that any revenue derived from cap-and-trade or a carbon tax should not be used for social programs. If that’s what Mr. Kent means by “social engineering.” This point has been raised in the past: Stephane Dion’s Green Shift used some of the revenue to reduce poverty and Brian Topp raised it as a point of concern during the NDP leadership race.
In 2011, the NDP committed almost all of the revenues from cap-and-trade to what it termed “green initiatives.” And when I spoke with Thomas Mulcair in December, I asked him about this point. He said then that “there has to be an equivalent amount that goes into environmental purposes” and “it has to be concentrated in those provinces, those areas where that money is being generated.”
Is there a possible difference between “environmental purposes” and “the reduction of (greenhouse gases)”? Maybe. But is that suddenly all that remains of this apparent disagreement over the NDP’s cap-and-trade platform?
… that’s something we would consider to be … unworthy,” he said.
So is there a kind of carbon tax that Mr. Kent would consider worthy? Is Alberta’s carbon tax worthy?
The global debate about how to reduce carbon has not really taken a hard look at how effective carbon taxes are in actually cutting emissions, he added.
Fair enough. There are certainly questions to be asked. Which approach would be most effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Cap-and-trade, a carbon tax or regulations. Which would be the most cost-effective and efficient option? Here is Stephen Gordon’s take. Here is Jack Mintz’s take. If Mr. Kent is willing to engage it, there is certainly an interesting debate to be had.
I asked Mr. Kent’s office two questions after reading CP’s story on Wednesday. Here are those questions, with the responses provided.
Does Mr. Kent not categorically oppose all forms of carbon pricing?
Our government has been clear: we will not implement a carbon tax.
And what is Mr. Kent’s opinion of the kind of carbon tax used in Alberta?
With regards to Alberta, the Minister was very clear in the press conference and I refer you to the following statement from the presser on Wednesday: “Well, we’ve been working in terms of our federal sector by sector regulatory process with the oil and gas sector since late 2011. We continue to work with – with the sector, with stakeholders, with the provinces – Alberta and other provinces that are blessed with oil and gas. But I think it would be premature today to talk about where we are.”
These responses didn’t seem to sufficiently explain Mr. Kent’s position on carbon pricing, so I tried again.
The minister is quoted today as saying: “There hasn’t been a great deal of subtlety in talking about carbon pricing There are those carbon taxes where the revenues go into general revenue and do not guarantee the reduction of a single ton of greenhouse gases. (But) Alberta has a tech fund wherein their revenues are focused only, and in isolation, on technology to achieve further ghg reductions than the emitters in that province are already able to achieve.” Is he saying that carbon taxes are not necessarily bad policy?
To that I was told to refer to the previous responses.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 11:18 AM - 0 Comments
The Natural Resources Minister talks to La Presse.
“I think that people aren’t as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees,” Oliver said in an editorial board interview with Montreal daily newspaper, La Presse. “Scientists have recently told us that our fears (on climate change) are exaggerated.” Oliver was not able to identify which scientists he was using as a source, the newspaper reported.
Less than four years ago, Stephen Harper identified climate change as a profound threat.
In the interests of time, allow me to focus my remarks this afternoon on the fight against climate change, perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today.
Canada may be a small contributor to global warming – our greenhouse gas emissions represent just 2% of the earth’s total – but we owe it to future generations to do whatever we can to address this world problem.
Update 7:33pm. The Canadian Press adds some of Mr. Oliver’s comments.
In an editorial board meeting with La Presse in Montreal, Oliver cited scientists who say that fear of climate change has been exaggerated. His comments were confirmed through a transcription of that part of the meeting, provided to The Canadian Press on Friday by Oliver’s spokesman.
“I did not say that there is no problem, and I do not say that others (scientists) have said that there is no problem. Instead, they say there is a big problem. But now they say that the problem is not so urgent that they previously thought. Maybe it will take more time,” Oliver said, according to his spokesman. ”But … I do not deny the problem, which is a fundamental problem.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
Mike De Souza finds that the Conservatives purchased carbon offsets to account for emissions related to the Vancouver Olympics.
The Harper government paid $226,450 to conserve trees in a British Columbia forest to prevent its activities at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics from contributing to global warming, say newly released internal memos obtained by Postmedia News. The three memos, prepared for Environment Minister Peter Kent, said the money was used to buy certified credits to compensate for about 16,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions generated from federal employee travel, security, the torch relay and other government activities at the Vancouver Olympics, which were hailed as the first carbon neutral games in history…
The total would be equivalent to paying a carbon tax worth about $13.55 per tonne of emissions. It does not include other credits that were donated and purchased by suppliers and sponsors to make the Vancouver event entirely carbon neutral.
But it gets worse. Not only did the Harper government pay for its emissions, it apparently did so with an official pronouncement of pride in having done so.
Today, Canada’s Environment Minister, the Honourable Jim Prentice, announced the Government of Canada’s commitment to offset federal greenhouse gas emissions for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
“Canada is proud to be the first host country in history to help offset the greenhouse gas emissions of its Olympic Games,” said Minister Prentice. “This commitment is one of many ways our Government is contributing to sustainable Games and meeting our global climate change responsibilities.”
Of course, the Olympics occurred in 2010, a year before the Conservatives started criticizing Liberal and NDP plans for cap-and-trade and two years before the Conservatives decided that to put a price on carbon was to wish great suffering upon Canadian families.
That said, the Prime Minister, presumably unaware until now of this price paid, will no doubt now wish to reconsider his generally fond assessment of the Vancouver Olympics. And it is probably a good thing that Jim Prentice quit in November 2010 for he would surely have to resign if he was in cabinet this morning.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The oil and gas sector will need to lower greenhouse gas emissions…
OTTAWA – The oil and gas sector will need to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent if Canada has any hope of meeting overall reductions targets by the end of the decade, says a new report from an environmental think-tank.
The Pembina Institute report also says the only way that’s going to happen is if upcoming federal regulations on the sector go much farther than those already in place in Alberta.
The Conservative government has been promising new rules for the oil and gas sector since 2008 and has suggested they will finally be unveiled this year.
The Conservatives on pricing carbon: For it before they were against it before they precipitated it?
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
John Ivison explains how the Harper government’s regulations on the oil and gas sector might be implemented.
Mr. Kent was said to be in Alberta last month, meeting with industry executives and there seems to be a broad agreement on both sides. Companies like Exxon, Cenovus Energy and Total are on record as saying a greenhouse gas levy at least brings cost certainty and reduces concern about trade restrictions on oil sands bitumen based on carbon density. While the feds will not impose that tax, their regulations will inevitably lead to a price being placed on carbon…
… eventually, the deal that Mr. Kent is currently negotiating will be released for public discussion. What is it likely to look like? One thing is certain — Ottawa will not be imposing directly anything that walks, talks or quacks like a carbon tax. The most likely scenario would see Ottawa set a target for large emitters across the country. Then, provincial governments would create mechanisms to meet those targets, via a carbon tax or cap and trade system.
For their part, the Harper Conservative are intent on basing the next election campaign message around the NDP’s “dangerous” new taxes and spending schemes.
So, under this scenario, the Conservatives, who promised and advocated for cap-and-trade while opposing a carbon tax, but then decided that cap-and-trade was the same thing as a carbon tax and proceeded to loudly and repeatedly criticize the NDP’s proposal of cap-and-trade, will soon introduce greenhouse gas emission regulations that will lead the provinces to implement carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems, but then the Conservatives will maybe still spend the next election campaign criticizing the NDP’s interest in cap-and-trade.
British Columbia and Alberta already have carbon-pricing policies in effect. Ontario is committed to a cap-and-trade system.The Quebec government is moving forward with a cap-and-trade system. Manitoba has already implemented a price on emissions from coal and would like to see a federal system of carbon pricing established. The Saskatchewan government is willing to put a price on carbon. And the Newfoundland government is considering a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system as options.
President Barack Obama favours cap-and-trade. Asked in February what the Harper government would do if the United States implemented cap-and-trade, Joe Oliver said that scenario was a hypothetical he didn’t want to get into.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:17 AM - 0 Comments
Cleanup costs at a single northern mine next to Great Slave Lake are ballooning…
Cleanup costs at a single northern mine next to Great Slave Lake are ballooning so high they are forcing Ottawa to rethink plans for thousands of contaminated sites across the country.
Documents obtained by northern environmentalists show the government expects the cost of cleaning up the Giant Mine just outside Yellowknife to be nearly a billion dollars — perhaps the largest single environmental cleanup in Canada and paid for entirely by taxpayers.
Initial estimates for safely dealing with the huge site, which includes a toxic smorgasbord of buildings, tailings ponds and a quarter-million tonnes of arsenic stored underground, were about $488 million.
A federal progress report on the project says costs have increased as more has become known about the scale of the problem.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 9:18 PM - 0 Comments
Canada is winning a rare bit of environmental praise from the international community for…
Canada is winning a rare bit of environmental praise from the international community for its stance on pollution from shipping in Arctic waters.
Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show Canada is pushing hard to outlaw the discharge of oily wastes or garbage anywhere in the North.
Canada’s proposal, during negotiations for a mandatory global shipping code in the Arctic, has won the support of several countries including Germany and France — nations that often criticize Canada over the issues of climate change and management of wildlife such as seals and polar bears.
“Canada actually took quite good leadership on this issue,” said Lars Erik Mangset of the World Wildlife Fund, which was an official observer at the talks held in late March in London.
By The Canadian Press - Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 6:25 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Canadians will be joining millions of others around the globe to mark…
TORONTO – Canadians will be joining millions of others around the globe to mark Earth Hour this evening.
The World Wildlife Fund, the driving force behind Earth Hour, says 13-million Canadians turned off their lights for an hour last year in the symbolic event aimed at drawing awareness to climate change.
It’s unclear how many Canadians will join the seventh edition of Earth Hour.
However, Earth Hour is embraced by hundreds of Canadian municipalities and many utilities have Earth Hour sections posted on their websites.
B.C. Hydro, for example, has a way for many of its customers to compare their electricity use during Earth Hour with their normal power usage.
Steven Price, a conservation director with the World Wildlife Fund, says municipalities are a driving force behind Earth Hour.
“Now if we could get the provinces, territories and federal government more interested, we’ll be getting somewhere. And Earth Hour is meant to send a message, even if it’s quote a dark one, to them.”
His hope may not be so far away.
B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake posted a message on B.C. Hydro’s website urging all residents in the province to power down tonight to show their concern for the global environment.
New Brunswick Environment Minister Bruce Fitch posted a similar message on the website of NB Power.
“This is an important initiative that highlights ways that we can impact our energy consumption and lessen our environmental footprint,” Fitch said in a statement.
The city of Vancouver is carrying a global earth hour banner today. The WWF picked Vancouver as its Global Earth Hour Capital over 66 other cities around the world. It’s a recognition of the city’s efforts to reduce pollution that causes climate change. The city also received the highest number of online votes in a People’s Choice ballot.
The challenges of dealing with climate change can be enormous and can seem overwhelming, but we shouldn’t underestimate the difference Canadians can make, Price said.
“One way to start doing that is have a moment when you turn the lights out and say ‘I’m starting right now and I’m sending a message to my family but also to my government representatives and I’m going to re-examine how I use fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — in my household.’”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN headquarters in New York City will join more than 7,000 cities and towns in more than 150 countries and territories for Earth Hour.
“We participate with an undimmed determination to take action on climate change,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
On the environment, Redford said she would like to see the federal government adopt a strategy similar to Alberta’s $15-per-tonne carbon levy on large industrial emitters that are unable to meet their greenhouse-gas reduction targets, with the cash then used to improve environmental outcomes. “We think that’s the right approach,” Redford said, when asked whether Ottawa should introduce a federal carbon levy on large emitters.
Alberta’s carbon tax of sorts has generated more than $300 million for a technology fund used to green operations and improve environmental performance. “The federal government needs to be supportive of that policy (setting a carbon price) in areas where it can actually make a difference to the outcome. Simply symbolically setting a price doesn’t actually achieve an outcome,” she added. “So I think it’s fine to set targets, I think it’s time to be supportive of sectors that are looking to try to reduce emissions and to be able to partner together on that.”
But Ms. Redford’s office now says that she wasn’t quite endorsing a national carbon tax.
Premier Alison Redford did not advocate for a national carbon tax as today’s PostMedia story implies. The Premier was clear that Alberta’s climate change actions to date—including the creation of a fund for clean technology projects—have been successful and are driving innovation. Clean technology initiatives are worthy of consideration as the federal government develops new greenhouse gas emission regulations for the oil and gas industry.
John Baird once bragged of plans to establish a clean technology fund with the proceeds of a $15-per-tonne carbon price, but the Harper government has since decided that any price on carbon is a carbon tax.
But then Ms. Redford also prefers her province’s carbon levy to a cap-and-trade system (another policy the Harper government used to support).
Redford, however, doesn’t believe a widespread cap-and-trade emissions reduction scheme is necessary or the best approach for the federal government, questioning whether it would actually be effective in reducing emissions. “The goal is not to do something as a PR stunt; it’s to actually do something that is going to make a difference to outcomes. It can be a price on carbon, it can be work on consumer policies, energy efficiency, dealing with greening the (electricity) grid, that kind of thing,” she said.
But then the Alberta NDP doesn’t think the province’s carbon levy is sufficient.
“The ad is extremely misleading with respect to Alberta’s environmental record. It says that we have put a price on carbon. What we have is a very low price put on carbon intensity emissions,” Mason said.
By Kate Lunau - Monday, March 18, 2013 at 7:30 AM - 0 Comments
The green jobs sector is no longer a niche
For Chris Rogers, owner of Corporate Chemicals and Equipment in St. Catharines, Ont., the wake-up call came when his father Cecil was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 2000. Cecil, who owned the business before Chris took over, had worked in the industry since he was 18. “He opened my eyes to what he thought was the cause,” Rogers says: the vats of chemicals that surrounded Cecil through his working life. “I started to rethink things.” The company, which makes and sells sanitation supplies, started going green—a philosophy that’s affected everything from products to marketing and, of course, its employees. “The green chemistry of today is the everyday chemistry of tomorrow,” he says. The same could be true of green jobs.
Canada’s green economy is growing fast. Our clean-technology sector, made up of more than 700 companies, saw an 11 per cent jump in employment between 2008 and 2010, according to a January report from the Pembina Institute, a non-profit environmental think tank. Once considered a niche, the green-jobs sector is now comparable to the booming oil and gas extraction sector, and has exceeded the aerospace industry, says a 2012 report from Analytica Advisors, an Ottawa-based consulting firm that specializes in clean energy.
- The future of jobs
- College-corporate partnerships
- After the oil boom
- Colby Cosh on the state and education
Canada’s “green-collar jobs” aren’t just found at clean-technology firms. More than 12 per cent of the Canadian workforce “has some sort of environmental initiatives within its work,” says Grant Trump, CEO of the non-profit ECO Canada. Another four per cent of the workforce spends more than 50 per cent of its time on environmental activities, he says. And 17 per cent of Canadian companies—318,000 in total—employ one or more environmental professional.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 11, 2013 at 2:07 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s Office has lately been uploading old speeches of Mr. Harper’s to YouTube. On Friday, for instance, this speech from June 2007, delivered in Berlin, was added.
In it, Mr. Harper explains, in part, his government’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas thusly.
So we vowed to develop a real plan – with real, absolute, mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. A plan that’s practical, affordable and achievable. A plan that’s balanced and market-driven. A plan that deals with our growing economy and population…
Of course, it may not be possible for all countries, or all industries and firms within all countries, to reduce their emissions by the same amount on the same time line. That is why other compliance measures such as carbon offsets and carbon trading are also necessary. They are part of Canada’s plan and, provided they are not just an accounting shell game, they must be part of a universal, international regime.
It was about seven months later that the Harper government started explicitly endorsing the idea of a “price on carbon.” And it was almost exactly a year after his speech in Berlin that the Prime Minister gave this speech in London (which was uploaded to YouTube four years ago), in which he managed to both support a price on carbon and oppose a carbon tax.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 6:03 PM - 0 Comments
Ezra Levant, the carnival barker of the conservative movement in Canada and the foremost heel to Canadian progressives, was trying to explain the problem with environmentalism.
“I have no problem with treating the environment on an issue by issue basis: we’ve got to fix this or solve that,” he said. “But environmentalism is a philosophy, like most words ending with ism. Socialism, communism… hinduism, it’s a faith. And so the question is if your true ideology is conservatism or libertarianism, and you also think you can be an environmentalism person, you may have a conflict there.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM - 0 Comments
Sustainable Prosperity finds that oil and energy companies are already building a price on carbon into their estimates.
The 10 companies surveyed in the report including BP, Shell, Suncor, Statoil, Devon, Cenovus, Penn West, Enbridge, Ontario Power Generation and SaskPower are using shadow carbon prices of between C$15-68/tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (Co2e), reflecting a range of expectations about the actual short and long-term carbon price. The top of the range represents a price projection for future years: C$48 – $68/tonne for 2020 and up to 2040.
A shadow carbon price is the hypothetical price of carbon used voluntarily by a company, reflecting the company’s expectations of the future market carbon price or regulatory cost, or the cost of reducing or offsetting carbon emissions. The company’s choice of shadow carbon price reflects the actual regulatory price (such as Alberta’s C$15/tonne contribution to the province’s Climate Change Emissions Management Corporation) and the expected future increase in that price, among other factors. “Current carbon pricing systems in Canada provide varying levels of policy certainty for companies. That is why more and more companies are using a shadow carbon price: to ensure they are prepared for the future when carbon emissions are likely to be priced.” said Mike Wilson, Sustainable Prosperity’s Executive Director.
Note here that a price on carbon includes the possibility of costs related to either market-based solutions (cap-and-trade, carbon tax) or regulation.
Of course, the Harper government also uses a price on carbon in its estimates.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, March 1, 2013 at 4:32 PM - 0 Comments
Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones just wrapped up a briefing for reporters on the latest Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone XL. Here are a few highlights:
1. This is not a decision:
“This draft SEIS is a technical review of potential environmental impacts,” she said. “This draft is not a decision on presidential permit application.”
In about a week, the department will begin a 45-day public comment period on the draft, she said.
During that time, State will hold another public meeting in Nebraska, where an alternative route has been proposed. Then, after reviewing comments, the department will write a final version of the report. Then the State Department will begin to consider whether the project is in the “National Interest.”
TransCanada will be waiting a few more months for a final decision on whether or not there will be a presidential permit to go ahead with the construction of the cross-border section of the pipeline.
2. State concludes that Keystone XL itself will not drive growth of oil sands production.
Asked about how the project would impact greenhouse gas emissions, Jones said that contrary to what many environmentalist critics of the project have been arguing, ”We find that approval or denial of any one transport project really remains unlikey to significantly impact development of oil sands.”
3. This conclusion is not set in stone.
“But let me reiterate this is a draft document and we are anxious to get input from the public,” she said.
4. State did not reach conclusion on environmental soundness of project.
Asked how Keystone XL would impact greenhouse gas emissions, she said: ”It’s premature at this point to come down with strong conclusions as we want to make sure we get a lot of comments on this and have a full public debate on this document.”
However, she did make a point that the Canadian government has been stressing in support of the pipeline — that the Alberta bitumen would be replacing heavy crude from other countries: ”In some cases the oil is coming in and replacing oil already in US system from other sources so the question is, so how much difference does it make?”
5. This fight is hardly over.
“We’re not going to come out and make conclusions at this point until we engage with public and get some feedback,” she said.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 4:30 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Canada can teach the United States some lessons on reducing greenhouse gas…
OTTAWA – Canada can teach the United States some lessons on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Sunday in a blunt rejoinder to recent chiding by the Obama administration on climate change.
Baird told The Canadian Press that the U.S. should actually be following Canada’s lead on working to cut back on the use of coal-fired electricity generation.
Baird was responding to U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson who told The Canadian Press separately last week that President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address calling for swift action on climate change should also be interpreted as a challenge to Ottawa.
“We adopted the same goals and objectives in terms of climate change … We worked with the Obama administration and harmonized vehicle emission standards, light truck standards,” Baird said Sunday in a telephone interview from Lima, Peru.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, February 15, 2013 at 3:57 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Canada’s environment minister says it won’t take much work to build his…
MONTREAL – Canada’s environment minister says it won’t take much work to build his government’s credibility with the United States when it comes to climate change.
Peter Kent made the remark in Montreal on Friday — a couple of days after the Obama administration challenged Canada to act more aggressively on climate change.
His comment also came as Canada desperately tries to find ways to get Alberta’s oilsands bitumen to markets, including the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project to pump oil though the U.S.
The future success of Canada’s oil industry may hang in the balance, pushing climate change to the political front-burner in Ottawa.