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Tue, 2015-03-31 12:37Kevin Grandia
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Provinces Call Environment Minister Out on Climate Consultation Claim

While the office of Canada's Environment Minister is claiming it is consulting with the provinces on a long-term climate commitment, Quebec's Minister of Environment says he hasn't heard from anyone in more than three months. 

As part of preparations for a United Nation's climate leadership summit to be held later this year in Paris, the United States is set to submit its carbon emission commitment to the UN today.

And pressure is mounting against the Harper government as it tries to explain why it is failing to meet the same agreed deadline of March 31st to submit its own set of commitments.

Mon, 2015-03-30 16:34James Wilt
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Alberta’s New Head of Climate Change Plan, Diana McQueen, Blows Smoke While Province Fails to Act

We will continue to have a strong economy while meeting the 2020 [climate] targets … and we will meet those.”

It was a bewildering statement, like something out of a poorly scripted political drama. The idea that within the next five years, Alberta  the province responsible for over 35 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012  would meet its emissions targets would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic.

But that’s what was said.

And by Diana McQueen, a former minister of environment, no less. By the very person who’s now leading the revision of the province’s oft-delayed climate change framework.

Back in 2008, the Alberta government, then headed by Progressive Conservative leader Ed Stelmach, brought forward a fairly weighty climate change strategy. Goals were set, policies outlined.

Our targets,” wrote Stelmach, “are based on sound research not wishful thinking.”

The strategy promised that by 2020, the province’s annual emissions would fall by 50 megatonnes below “business-as-usual” numbers  in 2008, that number was  232 megatonnes per year.

But according to Environment Canada’s most recent projections for emissions, Alberta’s annual output will instead grow to 287 megatonnes a year — an overall increase of 55 megatonnes, which means that the target (a 12 per cent increase from the 2005 number) will be missed by a full 27 Mt.

Sun, 2015-03-29 12:46Heather Libby
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Vancouver Sets Goal to be First 100% Renewable Canadian City

When Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson set the goal of making his city the world’s greenest, he meant it.

A year after starting his first term in 2008, Robertson began implementing his “Greenest City 2020 Action Plan,” with the goal of becoming an environmental world leader by 2020. The award-winning plan tackles everything from energy efficiency to building standards to waste reduction to encouraging residents to grow their own food.

And it’s working.

According to the latest Greenest City report, Vancouver water consumption is down by 18 per cent, 23,400 new trees have been planted, 3,200 green and local food jobs have been created  all contributing to a reduction of community CO2 emissions by 6 per cent from 2007 levels and keeping the city atop global rankings for livability and health.

And, in Wednesday’s unanimous council decision, Vancouver City Council decided to go even further: recommitting to a long-term goal of deriving 100 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.

Wed, 2015-02-04 12:17Carol Linnitt
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Low Oil Prices, High Oilsands Emissions Should Influence Keystone XL Decision: EPA

tar sands, oilsands, kris krug

A letter submitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the State Department gives new weight to concerns the proposed $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline, destined to carry crude from the Alberta oilsands to export facilities along the Gulf of Mexico, will have significant climate impacts.

The EPA letter suggests existing analyses – which downplay the importance of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project – are out of date and require revision in light of low global oil prices.

Due to the plummeting of oil prices and related market changes “it is important to revisit [the] conclusions” of previous reports, EPA told the State Department.

Given recent large declines in oil prices and the uncertainty of oil price projections, the additional low prices scenario in the (State report) should be given additional weight during decision making, due to the potential implications of lower oil prices on project impacts, especially greenhouse gas emissions.”

The State Department is due to release a revised analysis of the Keystone XL project and is currently gathering comments from the EPA and other agencies.

Tue, 2015-02-03 11:21Guest
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Why (and How) the PICS Divestment Report Misses the Point

divestment

This is a guest post by Cam Fenton, Canadian tar sands organizer with 350.org.

Last week the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions released a report criticizing the fossil fuel divestment movement. While the report came as a surprise, the arguments didn’t, especially given that they were based more on building a straw man to support the report’s conclusions than actually understanding the movement.

At best the report fails to accurately reflect the demands and the theory of change of fossil fuel divestment movement, and at worst it fails to understand the true role and power of organizing, action and social movements.

The report gets a lot wrong and a little bit right, but most of its problems are undercut by three assumptions at the core of its argument – assumptions which seem to have been cherry-picked by the authors to support their own conclusions rather than reflecting those articulated by the movement. In fact the divestment movement has only ever been founded on one assumption that “if it’s morally wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”

Fri, 2015-01-09 11:43Guest
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Will B.C.’s LNG Strategy Really Help Global Climate Change?

LNG climate policy

By Josha MacNab, regional director for British Columbia at the Pembina Institute.

When world leaders gathered in Lima, Peru, for global climate change talks, British Columbia’s environment minister, Mary Polak, was among them. She shared the province’s successful experience in implementing commendable climate policies, like B.C.’s carbon tax — a policy that the president of the World Bank hailed as a “powerful example” of carbon pricing.

However, Minister Polak also included the province’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export aspirations as part of B.C.’s climate success story, arguing that LNG will displace coal in Asia. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t support this claim.

Wed, 2015-01-07 21:02Carol Linnitt
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Development of Oilsands Incompatible with 2C Global Warming Limit: New Study

Alberta oilsands, tar sands, Fort McMurray, climate, Kris Krug

A new study published today in the journal Nature finds the vast majority – 99 per cent – of Canada’s oilsands are “unburnable” if the world is to avoid a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

The study, co-authored by Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins, also found over 80 per cent of the world’s current coal reserves and half of all gas reserves similarly need to remain unused. 

Given changing market conditions that are already making the production of expensive and carbon-intensive fossil fuel reserves – like oilsands crude – more difficult, the authors concluded that a concerted effort to limit global warming would result in a massive drop in Canadian oil production.

The extraction of bitumen would “drop to negligible levels after 2020 in all scenarios because it is considerably less economic than other methods of production,” the report states.

Fri, 2014-12-19 13:33Nick Fillmore
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UN Climate Talks Face Long, Hard Road to Paris Next Winter

christiana figureres COP20

With yet another United Nations high level conference making little real progress on slowing climate change, a near miracle will be required if countries are to reach a meaningful and binding global agreement on carbon emissions in Paris next December.

The ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ document, agreed to on Sunday by 194 countries, is not a new “deal” for the climate, as conference observer Green Party Leader Elizabeth May pointed out. It is a 12-month work plan leading to the final meeting in Paris.

The conference shifted more responsibility for coping with climate change to the developing world. For the first time, an agreement calls on countries with rising economies, such as China, India and South Africa, to pledge action on climate change along with rich countries.

Developing countries have been expecting the North to provide billions-of-dollars to carry the burden of cutting carbon emissions in the South that are cause by northern industrialization. But a special fund set up for this purpose received barely a mention during key sessions.

Sat, 2014-12-13 09:02Carol Linnitt
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10 Things Canada Would Be Doing if We Were Serious About Climate Change

obama harper

Right now Canada is participating in the final day of the 20th annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru. The country already caught flack for thinking a progressive stance on hydrofluorocarbons will convince the international community Canada is doing its due diligence when it comes to the world’s problem of growing greenhouse gas emissions. To make matters worse, this week Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in the House of Commons that it would be “crazy” to regulate emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector, signaling the long-overdue rules are no longer on the table.

Meanwhile in Peru, Canadian delegates are working hard to keep Canada’s oil and gas sector off the climate-negotiating table, despite the genuine efforts from nations across the planet to come to a meaningful agreement for addressing the globe’s growing carbon emissions problem. As a result, Canadian NGOs are saying the country is losing its international credibility. As the disappointing climate talks close today in Lima many countries are saying wealthy nations like Canada are creating an atmosphere of distrust and vulnerability by delaying meaningful, collaborative climate action.

So looking ahead to COP21 in Paris, Canada will have to do more than delay and obscure its climate problems with miniscule good deeds if it wants to show the world we deserve a big kid chair at the negotiations table.

Here are 10 things Canada would be doing if we were actually serious about addressing climate change at COP20 in Lima and beyond.

Wed, 2014-12-10 21:01Heather Libby
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The Reality of Stephen Harper vs. The Reality of Carbon Taxes

stephen harper, carbon tax

Last night Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his house band, the Van Cats, took to the stage at a Conservative Christmas Party in Ottawa. Seated at the keyboard, the Prime Minister warbled through a performance of the Guns n’Roses classic ‘Sweet Child of Mine.’

Less than 24 hour earlier that the Prime Minister was singing a different tune.

Earlier in the day, the Harper railed against the concept of carbon taxes and regulation of the fossil fuel industry during Question Period in the House of Commons. In response to questions from NDP environment critic Megan Leslie about the Conservative’s 2007 pledge to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, he replied:

Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy — it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector; we're clearly not going to do that. …In fact, Mr. Speaker, nobody in the world is regulating their oil and gas sector. I would be delighted if they did. Canada would be there with them.”

All of the above are indeed words, but when used by the Prime Minister in this combination they give a result that’s completely and egregiously incorrect.

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