climate change

Thu, 2015-04-16 13:12Carol Linnitt
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The Faulty Logic Behind the Argument That Canada's Emissions Are a ‘Drop in the Bucket'

At the premiers' climate summit this week, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall brought up a statistic that has received a fair amount of attention lately: Canada’s emissions account for fewer than two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

He's not wrong, but used as an argument against doing our part to combat climate change, his point does contain some flawed logic.

“Showing leadership matters, signals matter, examples matter, but the numbers are the numbers,” Wall said.

Essentially, Wall appears to be suggesting that because no single action by itself will solve the problem, we shouldn’t take that single action.

Applying this logic to other situations reveals just how faulty it is.

Wed, 2015-04-15 15:57Stephen Leahy
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Proponents of Renewable Energy Will Own the 21st Century, Say Leaders at World Congress

Vancouver city council’s unanimous decision to commit to running on 100 per cent renewable energy is the kind of political leadership the world desperately needs says Jørgen Randers, professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway.

Despite the looming catastrophe of climate change the market will choose to do nothing,” Randers said in the keynote speech at the ICLEI World Congress 2015, the triennial sustainability summit of local governments in Seoul, South Korea.

Nor will voluntary actions on climate be enough. Strong legislation, intelligent policy and collective action are the only ways to keep humanity from a nightmare future, said the former business executive who still sits on boards of major corporations.

Wed, 2015-04-15 13:27Andrew Leach
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Why Don’t We Have GHG Policy for the Oilsands? Blame Stephen Harper.

This article originally appeared on the Institute for Research on Public Policy website. It is republished here with permission.

There is one person to blame for the fact that Canada, to date, does not have greenhouse gas policy for the oilsands: Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Since 2007, when what was then known as Canada’s New Government introduced the Regulatory Framework for Air Emissions, the conservative government has had a fairly consistent approach to greenhouse gas emissions policy  they’ve relied on regulations, in some cases combined with carbon pricing, as part of a sector-by-sector regulatory approach. Or rather, they’ve relied on some regulations, with the ever-present promise of more regulations to come.


Eight years after this initial plan, we seem no closer today to seeing federal policy cover the growing emissions of the oilsands, the natural gas and refining industries, or the large and growing source of greenhouse gases known as “emissions-intensive and trade-exposed sectors.”

As the prime minister’s former Director of Communications Andrew MacDougall wrote in a column about the Mike Duffy trial, “if something is essential to the government’s agenda and losing isn’t an option, the entire team puts its shoulder to the wheel until victory is achieved. If a policy isn’t critical, it can be abandoned if the going gets too tough.” Had greenhouse gas policy for the oilsands and other major emitters been seen as critical to the government’s agenda, they’d be implemented today.

As it happens, they’re not.

Wed, 2015-04-15 12:49Guest
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China’s Disastrous Pollution Problem Is A Lesson For All

V.T. Polywoda via Flickr CC

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Beijing’s 21 million residents live in a toxic fog of particulate matter, ozone, sulphur dioxide, mercury, cadmium, lead and other contaminants, mainly caused by factories and coal burning. Schools and workplaces regularly shut down when pollution exceeds hazardous levels. People have exchanged paper and cotton masks for more elaborate, filtered respirators. Cancer has become the leading cause of death in the city and throughout the country.

Chinese authorities, often reluctant to admit to the extent of any problem, can no longer deny the catastrophic consequences of rampant industrial activity and inadequate regulations. According to Bloomberg News, Beijing’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that, although life expectancy doubled from 1949 to 2011, “the average 18-year-old Beijinger today should prepare to spend as much as 40 percent of those remaining, long years in less than full health, suffering from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis, among other ailments.”

China’s government also estimates that air pollution prematurely kills from 350,000 to 500,000 residents every year.* Water and soil pollution are also severe throughout China.

The documentary film Under the Dome, by Chinese journalist Chai Jing, shows the extent of the air problem. The film was viewed by more than 150 million Chinese in its first few days, apparently with government approval. Later it was censored, showing how conflicted authorities are over the problem and its possible solutions. The pollution problem also demonstrates the ongoing global conflict between economic priorities and human and environmental health.

Rather than seeing China’s situation as a warning, many people in Canada and the U.S. — including in government — refuse to believe we could end up in a similar situation here. And so U.S. politicians fight to block pollution-control regulations and even to remove the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, or shut it down altogether! In Canada, politicians and pundits argue that environmental protection is too costly and that the economy takes precedence.

Tue, 2015-04-14 09:14Jane Desbarats
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Gwynne Dyer Warns Climate Change Greater Global Threat Than Terrorism

When the iconic Gwynne Dyer recently spoke to a sold out crowd at Goldcorp Auditorium at Simon Fraser University he said although terrorism dominates media headlines it’s the global threat of climate change that keeps him up at night.

Delivering a lecture on his vision of “The New World Disorder,” Dyer said the Western world obsesses over the Middle East, overblowing the significance of radical terror groups to global security.

It's astounding how little the Middle East matters,” Dyer told the crowd. “I mean, it monopolizes our news media, but the Middle East contains 10 percent of the world's people. Only five percent of the world's people are Arabs. And it accounts for about three percent of the world's economy, including all the oil.”

Mon, 2015-04-13 15:00Heather Libby
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Premiers Clark, Prentice to Skip Quebec City Climate Summit

On Friday afternoon, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq sent a letter to Canadian premiers detailing how each of their provinces are falling short on targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

In her message Aglukkaq notes that the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia are the furthest from reaching their targets. Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec are next on the list.

Unfortunately, neither B.C Premier Christy Clark nor Alberta Premier Jim Prentice will be attending tomorrow’s Premiers' Summit on Climate Change in Quebec City.

Bloomberg News reported on Friday afternoon that Clark would be skipping the meeting to attend a World Bank meeting. On Monday morning the Office of the Premier of Alberta confirmed to DeSmog Canada via phone that Prentice would not be attending the summit either.

As part of its 2020 targets, British Columbia pledged to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions from 62 gigatonnes per year to 42 gigatonnes per year. Environment Canada predicts British Columbia’s emissions will actually rise to 69 gigatonnes per year by 2020. More distressingly, these figures do not account for the new emissions that would be created by new liquefied natural gas development or the two oilsands pipeline and tanker projects under consideration.

Mon, 2015-04-13 14:32Heather Libby
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How is Your Province Acting on Climate? A Primer for the Premiers' Climate Summit

In the lead up to December’s UN climate talks in Paris, most countries are approaching their promised emission reductions with new national regulations. Canada’s Conservative government is taking a different path.

Instead of considering a federal carbon tax, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq has asked premiers to submit their own cuts and how they will achieve them. In a letter submitted to all premiers on Friday afternoon, Minister Aglukkaq notes that Canada is falling far short of its promised 2020 emission cuts and suggests it is up to individual provinces to fill in the gaps.

Those reductions — plus working out the details of the Canadian Energy Strategy — form the agenda for Tuesday’s Premiers' Climate Summit on Climate in Quebec City.

Mon, 2015-04-13 10:02Stephen Leahy
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Cities Emerge as Climate Leaders at World Congress But Still Need More Government Support

Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of global CO2 emissions but they can save the planet by greening one community at a time said Vancouver’s David Cadman at the close of the ICLEI World Congress 2015, the triennial sustainability summit of local governments in Seoul, South Korea.

We can do it. We must do it,” Cadman, the retiring president of Local Governments for Sustainability, told some 1,500 delegates from nearly 1,000 cities and local governments in 96 countries on April 11.

The majority of climate actions and most plans to reduce CO2 emissions are happening at the city level, Cadman told DeSmog Canada in Seoul.

Mon, 2015-04-13 04:00Guest
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Top 3 Myths About Greening Canada’s Economy

This is a guest post by Sustainable Prosperity, a national green economy think tank.

This is a big week for Canadian energy and climate policy, with Monday’s Canadian Round Table on the Green Economy and Tuesday’s premiers’ climate summit. With all the talk of a “green economy,” we’re releasing a new video explaining what that ubiquitous term really means.  

What better time than now to bust a few myths about the “what” and the “how” of a greener Canadian economy?

Sat, 2015-04-11 16:06Derek Leahy
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Over 25,000 March in Quebec Demanding Climate Leadership in Canada

An estimated 25,000 took to the streets of Quebec City Saturday to protest the federal government’s lack of leadership on climate change and unfaltering support for increased production in the Alberta oilsands.

Our message is simple — yes to climate equals no to the tar sands,” Christian Simard, executive direct of Nature Quebec, said. Nature Quebec along with Greenpeace, Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation and other eastern Canadian environmental groups organized the demonstration — already being called the largest climate protest in Canada's history.

Demonstrators filled the streets of Quebec City’s historic quarter demanding the nation's premiers be climate leaders and reject proposed pipeline projects like TransCanada’s Energy East and KinderMorgan’s TransMountain.

We don’t want to see the premiers under the cover of a national energy strategy agreeing to help Alberta expand the tar sands. A national energy strategy needs also to be a climate strategy,” Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence Canada, told DeSmog Canada.

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