Pembina Institute

Blog Posts by P.J. Partington

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P.J. Partington — Dec. 17, 2009

Yesterday I turned 24 at the Bella Centre. While somewhat unconventional as far as birthday celebrations go, I can't think of a more meaningful way to spend the day than fighting for a fair, ambitious and legally binding global climate deal. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Jan. 12, 2012

The federal government has repeatedly touted its forthcoming regulations for coal-fired electricity as proof that it’s serious about climate change. It was therefore concerning to see reports from the Globe and Mail last week that suggest the government might “backtrack” on their coal regulations even before the final version has seen the light of day. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Jan. 10, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new regulations for industrial greenhouse gas emissions from major new and modified facilities took effect earlier this month — and despite dire warnings from some U.S. industry lobby groups, the sky appears to have remained in place!

Recently, the EPA took a second important step forward, introducing plans to regulate climate change pollution from all new and existing power plants and refineries. The move to establish standards for two separate source categories signals that the EPA is moving forward carefully on GHGs, rather than proposing a broader cap-and-trade system under the Clean Air Act. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Oct. 21, 2013

It’s not often we see international praise for climate change policy in Canada, but that’s exactly what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did in a recent report, highlighting British Columbia’s carbon tax as a leading example of carbon pricing. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Sept. 7, 2012

On Wednesday, the federal government announced its finalized regulations to limit climate-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. As we had anticipated months ago, the final regulations don’t go nearly far enough to help Canada keep its climate change  and clean energy commitments or safeguard ourselves, and our children, from coal pollution. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Aug. 25, 2010

Earlier this year, we published a backgrounder assessing recent controversies and claims surrounding the integrity of climate science. There have been several new developments since then, so we thought it would be useful to summarize the main ones.

In line with the earlier investigations summarized in our backgrounder, the more recent reviews find that the allegations made about the "climategate" stolen e-mails affair or errors in volume II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC AR4) are either baseless or have no bearing on the case for urgent reductions in greenhouse gas pollution. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Dec. 18, 2009

In working on Pembina's recent Facing the Climate Challenge fact sheet on climate science, I had a chance to wade into the literature on sea level rise (no pun intended). It's a rapidly-evolving area of research as scientists' understanding of how ice sheets melt and move ("ice sheet dynamics") is growing every day. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Aug. 9, 2012

The federal government’s just-released 2012 update to Canada’s Emissions Trends is an important report from Environment Canada that explores the trends expected to shape Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions this decade. The release of the first edition last July, along with this week’s updated version, are welcome because emissions projections like these are crucial to assessing the impact of Canada’s policies against the commitments the government has made to Canadians and to the world. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Oct. 26, 2011

One year, and several Ministers, after Jim Prentice's announcement that Canada would regulate emissions from coal-fired electricity generation, the draft rules have finally been published. We've looked through them in detail only to find that none of the major concerns we've raised in the past have been addressed. If the federal government is actually "serious about climate change" it needs to step up and significantly strengthen the proposed regulations for coal-fired power.

  Read more...

P.J. Partington — Dec. 6, 2011

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. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Jan. 21, 2010

There's been a lot of speculation about what this week's election of Republican Scott Brown (Mass.) to the U.S. Senate might mean for congressional action on climate change in 2010. Should we be worried now that the Democrats have lost the 60-seat supermajority required to prevent a planet-scorching filibuster?

I would say no. At least, not more than usual. Read more...

P.J. Partington — March 2, 2011

The scale of China's climate challenge is massive. But so too is the scale of economic opportunity for China associated with a low-carbon transition. It's increasingly clear that China is taking both quite seriously.

Roughly a year ago, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham made a telling admission:

"Six months ago my biggest worry was that an emissions deal would make American business less competitive compared to China. Now my concern is that every day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy." Read more...

P.J. Partington — Nov. 23, 2011

Yesterday, news broke that a batch of hacked e-mails from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia had been posted online. Sound familiar? Read more...

P.J. Partington — Feb. 26, 2010

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier (Beauce) raised a lot of eyebrows this week by declaring himself a climate change skeptic in a letter to the Montreal newspaper La Presse (the full English version is here). In doing so, he also applauded the government's go-slow approach to reducing emissions. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Dec. 18, 2009

A sobering new projection of sea-level rise published last week in the prestigious American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reminds us yet again of what world leaders need to accomplish today in Copenhagen, and why. Read more...

P.J. Partington — April 30, 2012

Rolled into the federal government’s budget implementation bill are a curt few lines repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. In the space of two haikus, they have junked Canada’s best weapon for transparency and accountability on climate policy. Read more...

P.J. Partington — April 19, 2010

Well folks, the numbers are in and it's a blow out! In 2008, Canada's emissions dropped 2.1 per cent from their all-time high of 750 million tonnes the year before. Fantastic news! And, if you believe last week's press release from Environment Minister Jim Prentice, we have mostly the federal government's clever policies to thank.

The release attributes the decline in emissions to "Canada's efforts to use greater amounts of clean energy power generation, which is part of the Government's efforts to target greenhouse gas production."

Sounds great, but a few key details are missing from that picture. Read more...

P.J. Partington — April 5, 2013

In Alberta’s current carbon pricing system, called the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER), major industrial facilities must reduce their “emissions intensity” (i.e. emissions per unit of production) by up to 12 per cent, relative to their typical performance or “baseline” level. The target phases in over time, reaching the full 12 per cent requirement in a facility’s ninth year of operation, and remains at 12 per cent after that. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Dec. 3, 2012

To succeed, carbon pricing needs complementary policies to back it up and address important market barriers. Energy efficiency regulations, especially in buildings and vehicles, are among those essential complementary policies.  Read more...

P.J. Partington — May 7, 2010

This week's issue of the highly respected research journal Science features a strong defence of climate science signed by 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The letter, "Climate Change and the Integrity of Science", is well worth reading in full — but here are some highlights.

On certainty and policy:

All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet. Read more...

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