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Last week, the provincial government announced changes to public sector carbon neutrality in response to some concerns. Overall, each of the changes should improve the policy. Unfortunately, some important concerns have yet to be addressed.
A proposal to eliminate part of the harmonized sales tax (HST) from home heating fuels in Ontario is back on the table as of this week. The New Democratic Party of Ontario has set its terms for accepting Ontario’s budget. One of the requests is the removal of the provincial portion of the HST from home heating fuels, a move that could cost the province about $350-million a year in lost revenues.
Yesterday, the government announced a change to the carbon tax in what amounts to temporarily eliminating $7.6 million in carbon taxes from greenhouses in B.C. and, in the process, placing its review on the edge of a slippery slope.
If you followed coverage of the federal budget last week with an eye to environmental issues, you could be excused for thinking Canada’s environmental review process is a tangled web of unnecessary red tape that is stifling investment in Canada’s energy sector.
Over the past several years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government have been doggedly selling Canada as a “clean energy superpower”. While those words have always rung hollow to anybody tracking the global rise of the $1 trillion clean energy economy, after yesterday’s federal budget they simply ring false.
This morning I appeared before members of the U.S. Congress to speak about the role of technology and government oversight in Canada's oilsands. As policy director at the Pembina Institute, I was invited along with several others to testify at the "American Energy Initiative" hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, part of the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee.
The announcement of a pending review of the carbon tax provides an opportunity to build a better B.C.
Canada is quietly emerging as a renewable energy leader, but it will take the same political focus currently being put toward oilsands to ensure we retain and grow the jobs that are being created in the country's emerging clean energy sector.
Recently, Calgary City Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting its first citywide greenhouse gas plan. The plan aims to reduce the city’s emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050, below 2005 levels and I’m thrilled to say that the Pembina Institute’s community services consulting group helped to write it.
The premiers of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan have pledged to meet with the federal government to discuss a national energy strategy and the related issue of regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Before that meeting happens, let’s examine their efforts to price carbon, a critical component of any cost-effective approach to dealing with climate change.
An open letter from the Pembina Institute to Canadians
As you may have noticed, the Harper government and the “Ethical Oil Inc” front group have been working to discredit groups like the Pembina Institute and our work on energy issues by claiming that we are a “foreign-funded,” “radical” organization advocating against the best interests of Canadians.
Allow us to set the record straight.
Apparently Canada is open for business but closed to criticism, no matter how constructive. This is the clearest conclusion that can be drawn from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s open letter to Canadians, in which he attacks advocates of responsible oil-sands development as “radicals” and dismisses the concerns of thousands of Canadians who want to have a say in the decision of whether to build Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
Yesterday afternoon, my colleagues and I were trying to make sense of the outcomes from the Durban, South Africa, climate change conference. Was it an exercise in deceit or did it offer some glimmer of hope? Before we could fully answer those questions, news broke that Canada was formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. Just hours off the plane from Durban, Environment Minister Kent made the announcement that Canada would no longer be a party to the world’s only climate change treaty.
Yesterday the reputation of the Pembina Institute and that of the British government was attacked in a column by Kathryn Marshall, a professional oilsands booster. Her commentary repeats many misleading or downright false statements about the Pembina Institute and the nature of our work.
The second and final week of the UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa is now underway. In our view, a wealthy country such as Canada that is serious about reaching an agreement, would be doing three things. Let's take a look at where Canada stands on these points.
Working on climate change issues can be challenging, especially when you compare what climate scientists say needs to be done with what politicians are (or are not) doing. Tuesday was a particularly challenging day. That's when the British Columbia Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released 75 recommendations for the 2012 B.C. budget, five of which discuss B.C.'s carbon tax and cap-and-trade rules and convey little interest in building on the positive steps already taken to address climate change in the province.
Ontarians head to the polls on Thursday to elect the next provincial government, at the close of an election campaign where green energy has emerged as a hot-button issue. As the rhetoric has escalated on all sides of the debate, Ontario voters have also had to wade through a great deal of misinformation about their energy options.
Thinking outside the pipeline: Why American decision-makers must consider the true costs of Keystone XL
The clock is ticking for the U.S. State Department to evaluate the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.
Nous cherchions, avec notre étude, à contribuer à un débat bien informé, s'appuyant sur les meilleures recherches scientifiques et économiques. Quelle déception, alors, que deux des principaux promoteurs du gaz de schiste au Québec aient plutôt choisi d'utiliser notre rapport pour faire des relations publiques trompeuses.
At the Pembina Institute we hope that our work stimulates well-informed debate, based on the best available science and economic analysis. It's therefore very disappointing that two of the most prominent proponents of shale gas development in Quebec have chosen to use one of our reports as part of a misleading public relations exercise.
The Green Energy Act brought Ontario new investment, jobs and manufacturing — not to mention clean sources of energy. But Ontario is now paying premium prices for that clean electricity, and many Ontarians are wondering if they got a good deal.
Many people talk a good line when it comes to taking action on climate change. But this week Dawson Creek, a city of 12,000 people in northern B.C., has decided to put its money where its mouth is.
Last Friday, while many Canadians were gassing up their cars getting ready to hit the road for the long weekend, U.S. president Barack Obama unveiled new regulations to lower drivers' gas bills and cut pollution from American vehicles.
In a meeting last April with the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, then-environment minister Jim Prentice said: "in terms of reducing our emissions of greenhouse gas as well as other pollutants, the more natural gas we can bring on in this country, the more desirable it is."
But a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation challenges that assumption.
Cancelling the Green Energy Act would have little effect on Ontario electricity prices: author of new report explains results
Ontario's electricity prices have become a hot-button issue recently.
But in spite of the increased focus on Ontario's electricity system, and in particular the Green Energy Act, there has been little information about how replacing the Act would affect electricity prices in the future.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
The Liberal Party's campaign platform, released Sunday, promised a cap-and-trade system that would apply to "all sectors of the economy with no exceptions."
Despite some unanswered questions, a pledge to put a price on Canada's greenhouse gas pollution is always good news in our books. But according to this week's media reports, cap-and-trade is a pretty scary prospect for some commentators.
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.
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.
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."
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