Pembina Institute

Blog Posts by Clare Demerse

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Clare Demerse — Nov. 17, 2010

We got sad news last night about Canada's Climate Change Accountability Act, a private member's bill that could have helped move Canada into a leadership role in tackling global warming.

Before it even had a chance to be debated, the bill was defeated by Conservative Senators in a surprise vote. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Oct. 5, 2010

Last week saw the federal government finally reveal where Canada's 2010 international climate financing contribution will go. Unfortunately, the news shows that Canada's contribution to helping poor countries tackle climate change is much less than it appeared when first announced. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Sept. 2, 2010

The last couple of posts on this blog highlighted science news from around the world. Last week saw some Canadian climate science news too, but unfortunately it wasn't good.

Thanks to a request under Canada's Access to Information legislation, we obtained a copy of a scathing internal government report about Canada's faltering climate and weather monitoring systems.  

Using crystal-clear language, the report documents a pattern of underinvestment and cuts that weaken Environment Canada's ability to accurately track the weather. The report says that these problems are accelerating — to the point that Canada's systems likely fall short of international standards. Read more...

Clare Demerse — June 29, 2010

Despite the Harper government's decision to downplay climate and energy issues at the G20 summit, there was no way to avoid a discussion of phasing out fossil fuel subsides. That's because leaders at the previous G20 summit, held in Pittsburgh in September 2009, decided to phase out these subsidies "over the medium term" — and specifically asked ministers to prepare implementation plans and timetables for discussion in Toronto. Read more...

Clare Demerse — June 26, 2010

We're now halfway through Canada's weekend of summits, with the G8 over and the G20 just getting started. For those of us looking for progress on climate change, the meetings are off to a rocky start.

This year's G8 declaration contains just four paragraphs on climate change, out of a total of 43. Unfortunately, they contain virtually nothing beyond what's already in the 2009 G8 declaration from Italy and the December 2009 Copenhagen Accord.

The best that can be said about the Muskoka declaration is that it didn't move backward from last year - but it didn't move forward either. With Canada in charge, the G8 missed an important opportunity to make progress on addressing climate change. Read more...

Clare Demerse — June 24, 2010

Heading into this weekend's high-profile G8 and G20 summits, the main climate story in Canada had been Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to downplay the role of climate change on the leaders' agendas.

But with just a day before the summits get underway, Environment Minister Jim Prentice has added some promising news to Canada's international climate story, thanks to the long-awaited announcement of the government's contribution to "fast start" climate financing.


Clare Demerse — May 26, 2010

Today's newspapers carry reports of a fascinating government briefing note that advised Canada's Minister of Finance to cut back on federal tax breaks to fossil fuel producers. The question now is whether ministers are listening. Read more...

Clare Demerse — May 20, 2010

Canada ranks sixth among the G8 countries on its readiness to compete in the low-carbon economy of the future, according to a new report from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE).

The NRTEE, an independent advisory group to the Minister of the Environment, has put together a set of 15 indicators to track countries' ability to make the successful transition to a low-carbon economy. Their rankings cover federal policies, but also include provincial government initiatives, the private sector, and other institutions (for example, the number of MBA programs in sustainability) — so the score is for Canada as a country, rather than simply for our federal government's performance. Read more...

Clare Demerse — April 1, 2010

The federal government took a step forward today in curbing greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and trucks, announcing regulations aligned with new U.S. federal rules that will cover new cars sold from 2011 to 2016. The U.S. rules that Canada plans to align with have been strengthened by President Obama from a weak starting point proposed by President Bush. 

If they go ahead as planned, the regulations will finally move Canada from a voluntary approach to greenhouse gas pollution from passenger vehicles to a mandatory one — an important step that needs to take place across the rest of Canada's economy. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Jan. 8, 2010

Nearly half of Canadians surveyed in a new poll by Angus Reid say they are "dissatisfied" with Prime Minister Harper's performance at the Copenhagen climate talks. (A further 25% of respondents chose "not sure," and just 9% pronounced themselves "very satisfied," while 19% are "moderately satisfied".)

Luckily for the Prime Minister, the work towards a strong global climate deal is far from over - Copenhagen was a beginning, not an ending. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Dec. 19, 2009

It's past 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in Copenhagen, and a summit that was scheduled to end nearly 24 hours ago has just ended. The result is a weak deal that needs fixing up as soon as possible, and a diminished reputation on the world stage for Canada.

The just-signed Copenhagen Accord falls short of the fair, ambitious and binding deal that observers at the climate summit had hoped for.

The good news is that we can fix the deal, and Canada can get its act together on climate change in 2010.

The very short "Copenhagen Accord" written here last night does not have the support of all countries. Because it falls so far short of what the science requires, a handful of nations refused to agree to its provisions. Many other countries, including the United States, noted that the deal is very far from perfect. (Canada's Prime Minister, on the other hand, called it "a good agreement that achieves Canada's objectives.") Read more...

Clare Demerse — Dec. 17, 2009

I'm writing this at 6:30pm Copenhagen time on Thursday, December 17. If the talks end on schedule — not a very likely prospect — then we will know the outcome by this time tomorrow.

An observer at the Copenhagen climate summit takes a moment away from the commotion inside the Bella Centre. An observer inside the Bella Centre in Copenhagen takes a quiet moment away from the tension at the UN summit. It's been a tense, and intense, last few days. The negotiations have been happening around the clock, and over 100 world leaders are now converging on Copenhagen for the finale of this summit.

I've been to G8 meetings before, and sometimes it looks like leaders arrive there with a deal all-but-finished before the official talks even start. Copenhagen is exactly the opposite. None of the presidents and prime ministers can show up here merely for a photo op, because as of right now, there is no deal to sign. These are very volatile talks, and I truly believe that any outcome — from a deal that lays the foundation for success to a total collapse — is still possible. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Dec. 11, 2009

Spending all day in Copenhagen's Bella Centre means I feel very far removed from Canadian news these days. So the arrival of a couple of new and interesting climate polls gave us a welcome update on views from home. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Dec. 8, 2009

When it comes to climate financing, the Copenhagen deal can't turn into a sprint, where countries pledge some funding now but pull up lame after 2012. Instead, short-term dollars are just the very first steps of a long race. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Dec. 4, 2009

We leave for Copenhagen today. With the meeting so close, we've had lots of calls from journalists who are getting up to speed on the negotiations. One of the questions that keeps coming up is "Does Canada have the same targets as the U.S.?" Read more...

Clare Demerse — Nov. 25, 2009

Welcome to our new blog! Starting now, the Pembina Institute's climate change blog will be the place to go for updates on climate news from around the world and close to home; our perspective on climate issues as they develop; and the inside scoop on Pembina's work. Read more...

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