greenhouse gas emissions

Fri, 2014-03-28 15:02Derek Leahy
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Provinces Take Action on Carbon Emissions Reductions Where Federal Government Is Failing, Says Report

Several provincial initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are closing the gap created by the federal government’s continuing lack of climate legislation. This patchwork of provincial policies may be the future of climate policy in Canada, according to a review of Canadian climate or carbon policy in 2013.

If we have learned anything about carbon policy in Canada, it is that top-down national systems are lost to the federation and we need to embrace bottom-up subnational systems,” argues the review released recently by the prestigious International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Winnipeg.

The Institute found in 2013 the federal government’s will to implement greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reducing regulations “evaporated,” but several Canadian provinces had “major successes” in adopting measures to reduce their own provincial carbon footprints. BC’s carbon tax, Quebec’s cap and trade system and Ontario phasing out coal-fired power plants are a few highlights of 2013 filling the lack of federal climate policy gap mentioned in the report.

Tue, 2014-02-11 11:57Derek Leahy
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Ontario Approves Importing U.S. Fracked Gas

The Ontario Energy Board’s approval of three natural gas projects last week puts the province’s plans to significantly reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint in jeopardy.

The ruling also gives Ontario the green light to import controversial shale gas from the U.S. This type of gas is trapped in rock-like shale and is extracted using a process called hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, which involves pumping a chemical mix underground at high temperatures to break apart the rock and free the gas. The practice has caused controversy worldwide due to fracking chemicals and methane contaminating drinking water.

So often we see approvals given to pipeline and fossil fuel projects without a real understanding of the broader and long-term impacts on climate, water and public health,” says Emma Lui, a water campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

Mon, 2013-11-18 09:18Russell Blinch
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Canadians Losing Confidence in Governments on Climate Says New Poll

Canada tar sands, oilsands by Kris Krug

Canadians are losing confidence that governments will take the lead in battling climate change, all the while becoming more certain that humans are behind global warming, according to a new poll by the Environics Institute, in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

The belief that governments will take a lead role battling changes has dropped to 53 percent from 59 percent in a year, according to the poll, which comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government faces rising criticism at home and abroad for inaction concerning greenhouse gas emissions.

“Canadians have for decades looked to their governments for leadership on addressing climate change and other environmental problems,” Keith Neuman, executive director of Environics, said in a statement. “This latest survey shows a noticeable drop in the public's confidence in governments' capacity to play this role, and this may well be because citizens haven't seen any evidence of leadership, especially at the federal level.”

Thu, 2013-10-31 09:04Carol Linnitt
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Global Carbon Budget Means Canada’s Fossil Fuels a Risky Investment

Carbon Bubble

In its latest report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave global greenhouse gas emissions a worldwide limit, know as the global ‘carbon budget.’ In order to prevent temperatures from rising above the 2 C threshold scientists have designated to avoid “dangerous” climate change, total global emissions need to stay within about 921 billion tonnes or gigatonnes (Gt).

As Marc Lee, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently pointed out, the carbon budget “should be a wake-up call for Canada.”

With a development model based on ever more fossil fuel extraction, Canada’s economy and financial markets are on a collision course with the urgent need for global climate action,” he said.

Wed, 2013-10-16 10:17Derek Leahy
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Ontario be Warned – Importing ‘Fracked Gas’ is Not the Way To Go, Say Experts

Ban Fracking Sign Council of Canadians

The days of cheap abundant natural gas from US shale gas ‘fracking’ operations are most likely numbered, three experts testified before the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). Far better for Ontario to increase energy efficiency and look elsewhere to meet its natural gas needs.

If (US and state) governments respond with effective regulatory and economic measures to the environmental challenges facing the shale gas industry, the cost of shale development will certainly rise, and in some cases is likely to become uneconomic,” says Lisa Sumi, one of the three experts and a environmental consultant, in a recent report The Regulation of Shale Gas Development: State of Play.

Ontario’s gas distributors Enbridge Gas and Union Gas want to expand the Greater Toronto Area’s natural gas delivery network and import natural gas from the surging shale gas industry in the US northeast (primarily the Marcellus shale and Utica shale gas reserves).

The first step in any energy strategy should be looking for ways to conserve energy, not increase energy consumption,” Mark Calzavara, Ontario-Quebec organizer for the Council of Canadians, told DeSmog Canada.

Tue, 2013-02-19 08:00Guest
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The Resurgence of an Evolving Climate Movement, Part 2

Ken Wu is executive director of Majority for a Sustainable Society (MASS) and co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance

For Part 1 of this article, click here.

In the first part of this article, I described what specific challenges the climate movement faces when confronting its own limiting tendencies as well as industry funded public relations campaigns. In this second part I outline what I think are four essential ways the climate movement must evolve in order to overcome these obstacles.

FIRST, we must become a lot more political, in the sense that it’s fundamentally the laws, policies, and agreements that shape our greater society and economy. And it’s our society and economy which are the foundations of our personal lifestyles. What is available, affordable, practical, and possible in our lifestyles is largely a product of the society in which we live – what clean energy sources exist at what price relative to dirty energy, how available public transit is, how well or poorly our cities are designed for walking, cycling, and accessing our needs, how energy efficient our buildings are, and so on.  

No individual is an island unto himself; the way we live is fundamentally shaped by the economy and society in which our lifestyles are nested.  

Sat, 2013-02-16 08:00Guest
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The Credibility Gap: All Talk and Not Much Action on Climate Change

By Hannah McKinnon, National Program Manager at Environmental Defense.

In last week's State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his vision for clean energy and urgent action on global warming. With TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on the frontlines and looking threatened, oil industry supporters are suddenly desperate to look like the environmental and climate risks of the tar sands are under control.
But there’s a massive credibility gap as Canada’s contribution to global warming is spiralling out of control, with the reckless expansion of the tar sands.
We’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words. So while the oil industry and government embark on a pro-tar sands PR campaign, let’s look at how Canada has behaved on climate action and the environmental risks of the tar sands.  

Fri, 2013-02-15 09:22Guest
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The Resurgence of an Evolving Climate Movement, Part 1

Ken Wu is executive director of Majority for a Sustainable Society (MASS) and co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance.

After years of apathy and political inertia, North America’s climate sustainability movement has found itself in the midst of a timely resurgence, as is evident by the recent massive expansion of Bill Mckibben's movement against the Keystone XL pipeline.

With climate change regaining its footing as a central political issue, now is the time to pressure governments to enact the needed laws, policies, and agreements required to curtail runaway global warming. But unless the moment is seized right, climate action will be stymied again – and there is no time to wait for another opportunity.

During his State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, US President Barack Obama stated:

“For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change…We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.”
Recent studies project that the Earth’s average temperature is on course to rise over four degrees this century, far beyond the two degree rise when “runaway” global warming kicks-in due to positive feedbacks that make it extremely difficult to halt.

Thu, 2013-02-14 08:00Erika Thorkelson
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The $6 Billion Blunder: Oil Obsession Has Alberta Looking Lonely

The government of Alberta’s continued reliance on the tar sands as the province’s main economic driver has put Premier Alison Redford in a very awkward position recently. With the market for foreign oil drying up in the US, her government is facing a $6 billion budget shortfall. For the first time in many years, Alberta is being forced to reach out for a little help from its neighbours, but the reception has been chilly.

The trouble began last year, when British Columbia Premier Christy Clark discovered that putting her unqualified support behind Enbridge’s plan to run its Northern Gateway pipeline through the province would constitute political suicide in an election year.

Whatever Clark’s motivations may have been—environmental or political—the result is that now they are in the midst of a struggle that Maclean’s Magazine calls, “the greatest political rivalry since former Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams ordered the Canadian flag removed from every government building in a dispute with the feds over offshore energy royalties.”

Mon, 2013-01-21 08:24Erika Thorkelson
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The Here and Now of Climate Change: Storms and Sea Level Rise in Canada

In early January, Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson announced that a part of the city’s iconic seawall would be closed for major repairs following damage from winter storms over the previous month. Mayor Robertson, in no uncertain terms, attributed the unusually serious damage to rising sea levels and climate change. “Seawall damage = cost of climate change + sea level rise,” he posted to his more than 30,000 Twitter followers, along with Vancouver resident John Woakes’ startling December 17 video of violent waves crashing past the beach and demolishing a walkway. 

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