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May 27, 2011 Moving Canada toward a new energy vision
We need a new energy vision for Canada — and the Pembina Institute's history, as well as the wide range of experience within our organization, puts us in a strong position to advance this vision.
May 17, 2011 Gas pain? Time for some serious nozzle-gazing
As the price of gas continues to fluctuate, drivers are feeling the pinch, and they're looking for someone to blame — be it the HST, the energy companies or political unrest in the Middle East. Many motorists are also calling for the government to step in and provide relief. Meanwhile, the Ontario government claims that if it reduces prices at the pump through tax decreases, energy companies will just jump in and inflate prices to fill the gap.
April 21, 2011 The next five years for climate and energy action in China
In a recent post we examined the remarkable growth of renewable energy in China — and the rising importance of climate change, energy security and low-carbon development in government decision-making. Here we will offer a quick look ahead at what lays in store for the next five years.
April 18, 2011 Video: CBC town hall discussion on Canada's energy future
"Is Canada doing enough to ensure a sustainable energy future?"
That was the question of the day on a recent edition of CBC Power and Politics, which featured a town hall discussion on Canada's energy policy. The Pembina Institute's Clare Demerse was part of that discussion, and in this video she explains how the transition toward a more sustainable energy future could benefit Canadians across the country.
April 13, 2011 Carbon pricing: comparing federal party platforms
Now that all the platforms are in, we thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of where the five major parties stand on the key question of pricing greenhouse gas pollution.
In most of Canada right now, there is no fee of any kind attached to emitting greenhouse gas pollution. But that pollution causes climate change, which is already imposing costs on Canada and the world — and which is projected to cause much more serious harm unless we can significantly reduce our emissions.
April 8, 2011 Cap-and-trade: Canadian after all?
At a news conference earlier this week, federal cabinet minister John Baird called the Liberal Party's cap-and-trade proposal "incredibly divisive" and "un-Canadian."
It's a surprising statement, and not just because Minister Baird's own government said it supported cap-and-trade as recently as 2009. Nearly 80 per cent of Canadians currently live in provinces whose premiers support cap-and-trade: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec have all expressed interest in joining with U.S. states in the Western Climate Initiative cap-and-trade system.
It's early days yet, but this spring's federal election campaign has already made one thing abundantly clear: there are a lot of political junkies working at the Pembina Institute.
Despite some very serious distractions (like those irresistible new daily Nanos numbers) we managed to tear ourselves away from our Twitter feeds long enough to put together a checklist for the kind of party platforms we'd like to see in this campaign.
Alberta's new reclamation program for oilsands mines and will make the reclamation process more transparent, but the overall foundation of the program is on rocky ground and may put Albertans at even greater risk of paying to clean up the oilsands.
March 21, 2011 Budget 2011: A checklist for clean energy success
This year's federal budget will be tabled in a week of high-stakes political drama in Ottawa. To make sure that clean energy doesn't get lost between the photo-ops and the fighter jets, here's our checklist for a strong clean energy budget.
I have often marveled at how seriously Japan takes emergency preparedness, without which the casualty rate from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami would have been far, far greater.
Yet as we watch the drama unfold, we would be reckless not to consider the implications of Japan's nuclear crisis for our own energy system. Canadian energy planners and politicians, particularly those in Ontario who are pushing for a nuclear renaissance, must draw lessons from the Fukushima nuclear crisis. In short: we should be planning to phase out nuclear power, not aid its rebirth.
If you spend time listening to politicians talk about their priorities, you'll very quickly end up hearing about jobs. Job creation matters across the country, and its importance has only grown in response to the economic downturn. We all know that decision-makers are eager to take steps that create jobs, and they think very carefully before putting a policy in place if it could lead to job losses.
For our climate team, this added up to a powerful case to study green employment.
For the past week or so, Ontarians have been grappling with high gas prices resulting from the uprisings in the Middle East. Some oil analysts warn that this has long-term oil price implications, putting our economic recovery at risk.
The Globe and Mail reported this week that rising oil prices are "creating new urgency for Ontario to reinvent itself" via a clean energy economy — citing the Government of Ontario's estimate that its Green Energy Act will create roughly 50,000 jobs to illustrate how investing in green energy can help fill the employment void created by the recent recession and the manufacturing industry's decline.
Feb. 28, 2011 Is there a “silver bullet” for climate change?
Editor's note: The following blog post is part of a series written during a conference on carbon pricing held at Wesleyan University in Connecticut late last year.
When James Hansen says there's a "silver bullet" in the fight against climate change, I'm inclined to keep listening.
The author, professor and NASA climatologist is world-renowned for both his scientific expertise and his outspoken views on the need for world governments — particularly his own — to take strong and swift action to deal with climate change by curbing fossil fuel use. He's also well aware of the economic forces driving nations to develop their natural resources.
"You can't force other countries not to develop their [fossil fuel] resources," Hansen said late last year, during his keynote address at a weekend conference at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. "The only silver bullet is a price on carbon."
Feb. 16, 2011 Coming face to face with climate change
Editor's note: The following blog post is one of a series written during a conference on carbon pricing held at Wesleyan University in Connecticut late last year. Over the coming weeks, we'll be posting a collection of blogs and videos from that conference.
Bill McKibben, one of America's best-known climate advocates, stands at the front of a jam-packed lecture hall at a Connecticut university. Behind him, the image of a girl looms large on a screen. She's young, maybe three or four, holding a small plant in a large pot, and staring down the world.
The child is planting the fragile green shoot as a symbolic action in the fight against climate change. The irony is, the plant may never have a chance to grow to maturity in its native soil — and neither may the girl, whose homeland, the small island nation known as the Maldives, is quickly disappearing into the sea as a result of climate change.
Freshly minted Environment Minister Peter Kent made no apologies for the oilsands' environmental record when speaking with media outlets including the Globe and Mail and CBC's Evan Solomon this week, calling the industry "ethical in every sense of the word."
It's a familiar argument, drawn from the playbook of Conservative pundit Ezra Levant — and a classic case of the rhetorical device called bait-and-switch.
Today's cabinet shuffle saw Peter Kent named as the new federal environment minister, and it couldn't have come at a better moment.
With a new year just beginning, it's the perfect opportunity for Minister Kent to chart a fresh path forward for environmental management in Canada. And, in keeping with tradition at this time of year, we've outlined a few resolutions we'd like to see the new minister adopt.
Dec. 13, 2010 A leader who gave the Pembina Institute room to grow
It's an impressive run by any measure. Under the leadership of Marlo Raynolds the Pembina Institute doubled its budget, doubled its staff, improved its media presence three-fold and almost quadrupled its output of reports and ideas for a sustainable energy future.
Dec. 13, 2010 Pembina’s new boss a bird-watching business guy who is passionate about the environment
He's a bird watcher, a veteran of the theatre, a mountain lover and a graduate of Asian Studies with an MBA. Ed Whittingham is the new executive director of the Pembina Institute - and no, he doesn't have a ponytail.
Nov. 24, 2010 An inside look at Ontario's long-term energy plan
Yesterday I attended a government briefing on the release of Ontario's long-term energy plan. I walked away pleased that the government was staying the course on developing a green and reliable electricity system that Ontarians can be proud of. This government has been criticized for recent increases to electricity bills, and it would have been easy to back down from their plans and instead move forward with a cheaper, dirtier plan — but they did not, and for this they should be commended.
If you show up at the landfill with a truck full of garbage, you have to pay to dump it. But if you pump pollution into the atmosphere, most Canadian jurisdictions provide a free dumping ground.
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.
June 23, 2010 If the oilsands aren’t high carbon, why do oilsands proponents spend so much time fighting low carbon fuel standards?
At the same time as they are fighting low carbon fuel standards, oilsands proponents are also heavily engaged in a campaign to convince the public that their greenhouse gas emissions are essentially no different from other crude oils. They can’t have it both ways.
If anyone is still not convinced that our ongoing subsidization of fossil fuel consumption is irrational, a recent statistic released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) should prove convincing.
May 13, 2010 The geography of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions
It's no secret that Canada's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are much higher today than they were in 1990. By 2008, the latest year with data available, Canada's emissions were 24 per cent higher than in 1990. We're often told the fault lies with our growing economy and growing population. We do, after all, have a strong economy and one of the highest rates of population growth in the G8. Our emissions growth is certainly the highest in the G8.
But it turns out that the real story behind Canada's big jump in pollution is a little more complicated. The national numbers are masking some huge provincial variations.
May 4, 2010 The economics of an oil spill
I was flying over the Gulf of Mexico when I first learned about British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil spill. At 30,000 feet from my plane window the oil spill looked something like a tailings pond surrounded by an ocean of blue. As anyone who is following the news coverage knows, this small pond of oil has spread into what may be the worst environmental disaster of this century and it will turn into quite the economic disaster as well.
March 4, 2010 Where did our green loonies go?
In response to the global economic downturn, many world leaders have introduced significant economic stimulus packages in an effort to ramp up economic development. Seizing the opportunity to kick-start a green economy, forward-thinking governments are getting double-duty out of these plans by dedicating a significant chunk of stimulus spending towards renewable energy and efficiencies. Canada? Not so much.
March 1, 2010 Personal debt shouldn’t make our economy look good
When federal finance minister Jim Flaherty recently announced changes to the rules governing mortgage approvals in Canada, he took a first step in recognizing we’ve been spending more than we’re making and increasing our debt loads in an unsustainable way. If we were measuring our economic well-being in a more holistic way, we’d have recognized the unsustainable debt levels long ago and been able to take preventative measures.
Imagine making a New Year's resolution to lose ten pounds and then heading to the store to stock up on chips and chocolate bars. Sound nonsensical? That's because it is — and the B.C. government's approval on Jan. 28 of EnCana's Cabin Gas processing plant in the province's northeast corner isn't much better.
Feb. 3, 2010 Using the Market to Fix the Environment
I used to think that the only thing needed for better environmental policy was a government that could stand up to polluters. While this still may be the most effective approach in some instances, these days, I realize the issues are more complex. In some situations, direct financial incentives may be an effective way to improve environmental quality.
Jan. 4, 2010 Resolving to "Green" Canada's Economy
Time to crack open the 2010 calendar. Another year gone by. The Christmas decorations are now back in storage, the left-over turkey all gone, and the New Year's resolutions are firmly in hand. This year, I decided to come up with a few green economics resolutions for Canada.
Dec. 7, 2009 A Tribute to Peter Dickey
On Friday Dec. 4, a friend, colleague and very important person in the pursuit of helping Alberta improve its environmental performance passed away. His name was Peter Dickey. Over the past decade I had the honor to get to know Peter as he provided mentorship and feedback on how the Pembina Institute should pursue our objectives.
Dec. 4, 2009 Merry Christmas Carbon Emitters
The Alberta provincial government handed out another early Christmas present yesterday — more money for carbon capture and storage.
Nov. 25, 2009 Brown to Green in One Generation
Welcome to the home of our new Green Economics Blog. My name is Amy Taylor and I am one of two economists on staff at the Pembina Institute. The other economist, Mike Kennedy, and I will be making posts to this blog on a regular basis. We hope you will check back to see our latest thoughts on everything green economics!
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