Blog Posts by Clare Demerse
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Ever since Barack Obama's election, Stephen Harper has set a single goal for Canada's climate policy: "harmonizing" our efforts to cut greenhouse gas pollution with the United States' plans. Like marriage, harmonizing sounds good in theory -- but it doesn't work unless you find the right partner.
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.
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.
Clare Demerse wonders how Canada will become a climate champion with a poor track record and no training program.
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.
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.
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 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.")
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.?"
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.
A report by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation found that Canada can meet an ambitious target to cut its greenhouse gas pollution while continuing to enjoy solid economic growth. By 2020, Canada's GDP would be 23 per cent larger than in 2010, and we would create nearly two million net new jobs. It's clear that Canada can be both green and prosperous. Science and economics both argue that we need stronger climate policies urgently. Now the politicians need to show that they're ready to step up to the plate.
Saskatchewan can cut its greenhouse gas pollution while creating nearly 50,000 net new jobs in the next decade, says a recent Pembina Institute/David Suzuki Foundation report. The provincial economy would grow by two per cent annually while meeting the federal government's current emissions target, producing a GDP 22 per cent higher in 2020 than in 2010. As well, Saskatchewan would gain more jobs while meeting that target than it would under business-as-usual.
Imagine that Canada's Minister of Defence got up one day and announced that all our military decisions will be made jointly with the United States from now on. Canada and the U.S. would use the same tactics and embrace the same goals.
Hard to picture, perhaps. But it's more or less the approach that Environment Minister Jim Prentice laid out in a speech in Toronto last month.
Canada Blocks Climate Change Progress But Canada's fully capable of reaching an emissions target based on science while adding 1.2 million new jobs by 2020
Canada was once again accused of blocking progress on the crucial question of targets for industrialized countries.
By Clare Demerse and Matthew Bramley
With the U.S. election looming, Washington seems ready to wake up from its long slumber on global warming. That gives Canada an important choice: do we want to lead the parade or fall meekly into line behind our neighbours to the south?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a weak climate plan into Canada's election and won himself a stronger minority government - but there's reason to doubt that his proposed greenhouse gas regulations will ever see the light of day.
At a time when we're flirting with climate disaster, Canada's political leaders have distracted us with a phoney war.
Even if you're a casual election observer, you've probably heard something about "carbon pricing" in this campaign. Because it's such a crucial way to cut Canada's greenhouse gas pollution, we decided to take a closer look at the major parties' commitments on carbon pricing.
From the chaos on Wall Street to the outbreak of listeriosis, Canadians have been hearing a lot about risk lately. It's emerged on the campaign trail as well, where Stephen Harper has called a tax on greenhouse gas pollution an "economic risk" to Canada. We can't assess the risk of acting on climate change without looking at the risk of climate change itself and the benefits of taking action.
When Canada's federal government published an update to its regulatory approach for heavy industry this month, environmentalists hoped that this much-criticized proposal had been strengthened. Instead, it offered a mixed bag that probably served to weaken an already feeble approach.
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