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Oct. 3, 2011 Fact: Green energy is good for Ontario
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.
Jan. 10, 2011 A “harmonization of outcomes” far off as U.S. prepares to regulate more sources of climate pollution
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.
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.
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.
Time and time again, municipal governments have shown leadership and innovation on climate action. We know that they can and must play an important role in advancing our climate targets. But are we helping them to lead?
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.
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.
July 5, 2011 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.
March 2, 2011 China's climate challenges and opportunities loom large
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."
July 22, 2010 Coal power company breaks promise to Albertans
In 2002, the Alberta body that regulates energy agreed to let a power company build a new coal-fired power plant outside Edmonton, with one key environmental condition: the company would make good on a voluntary commitment to cut the plant's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half.
At the time, the power company's voluntary commitment represented an uncommon display of corporate leadership and environmental responsibility. For the company, it simply made good business sense: the power sector believed that the province was set to unveil tough new climate change regulations, and since coal is a much higher-polluting energy source than alternatives such as natural gas, the company could undercut objections to using coal by promising to reduce the plant's net emissions (through purchasing offsets) to a level comparable to natural gas power generation. This solution removed one of the obvious reasons to block the use of a high-polluting source of energy, while positioning the company as a leader in the industry — it seemed like a win-win.
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.
Burning coal to make electricity is a dirty habit. We’ve known for years that it’s bad for our health, bad for our kids and bad for the climate. When it comes to air pollution and carbon intensity, coal plants are Canada’s worst electricity source. Yet many parts of the country still rely heavily on coal for electricity.
Some say banning old-fashioned light bulbs — the incandescent kind — could be bad for our health. Unfortunately, it might be this belief that could cause the most harm.
July 5, 2011 Geothermal Energy: A no-brainer for Canada?
Geothermal energy generates about 10,000 megawatts of the world's electricity, enough to power 10 million homes. But in a world on fire, Sarah McLachlan and the folks at the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association would like to see this number increase dramatically.
Canadians like to think of their electricity generally being fairly clean. After all, some provinces such as Quebec, Manitoba and B.C. have systems that emit almost no greenhouse gases. It'll surprise some of you then that we found only one per cent of Canada's electricity comes from sources that are both low-impact and renewable.
April 5, 2013 How carbon pricing currently works in Alberta
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.
At a time when higher-level governments seem unable or unwilling to make progress toward sustainable economies, cities and municipalities are pushing the envelope on reneweble energy.
The recent wave of instability in the Middle East and the corresponding increase in oil prices have refuelled the debate in Washington, D.C. over the role Canada's oil should play in meeting American energy demand.
Earlier today, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech focusing on America's energy security, and his bottom line was this:
"The only way for America's energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil. We have to find ways to boost our efficiency so that we use less oil. We have to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy with less of the carbon pollution that threatens our climate. And we have to do it quickly."
Oct. 18, 2010 Landowners' Guide to Wind Energy
This Pembina Institute has produced the Landowners' Guide to Wind Energy in Alberta to help landowners learn about and get involved with wind energy.
Heidi Eijgel raises horses on a ranch 700 m from Summerview Wind Farm, a 70.2 MW wind power project in southern Alberta. Heidi and her husband do not have an ownership stake in the wind farm, but for 10 years they have been some of the wind farm’s closest neighbours, as well as some of its biggest advocates.
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.
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.
July 5, 2011 Ottawa faces crucial test in the fight against coal
Just over a year ago, the federal government announced a plan to regulate some of the dirtiest sources of energy in Canada — coal power plants. Now, a decision by an Alberta regulator to approve a new coal plant has put the ball squarely in the federal government's court to live up to one part of that 2010 announcement.
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.
Sept. 19, 2011 Quebec shale gas proponents misrepresent Pembina study
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.
Ontario’s electricity system is often maligned, and more often misunderstood. Providing a multi-billion dollar essential service that employs thousands of people in competing industries is a tall order — doubly so when you’re trying to keep pollution levels and prices down. As we head into a new year, it’s important to take a step back and acknowledge some important gains the province has made so far.
The Pembina Institute, Arctic Energy Alliance, and Dehcho First Nations teamed up to organize a Dehcho Community Renewable Energy Forum last month in Fort Providence, NWT, to provide opportunities to hear from technical experts about biomass and solar energy options, as well as from communities about the challenges and the lessons they’ve learned when it comes to renewable energy projects.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently came out with a scorecard measuring the energy efficiency of 12 of the world’s largest economies. Canada finished second last — right between Brazil and Russia. The U.K. and Germany topped the list. So why did Canada do so badly?
July 24, 2013 Setting a clean electricity standard in Alberta
Alberta could implement a clean electricity standard that would create market-based incentives to encourage energy technologies with lower emissions than the current coal-powered system. A recent forum brought thought leaders together to discuss this opportunity.
I had the privilege to spend some time a few weeks ago at the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association’s annual conference, where one participant described geothermal as Canada’s ‘have not’ renewable energy industry. The 'have not' label is appropriate, since there are no existing commercial geothermal electricity projects in Canada, and limited to no geothermal-specific government support. Where Canadian geothermal companies have been successful is, surprisingly, everywhere but Canada.
April 18, 2013 Tales from the National Inventory: a look at Canada’s latest greenhouse gas emissions report
Each spring, as the tulips are starting to bloom in Ottawa, Environment Canada releases its annual compendium of greenhouse gas emissions data. Here are three stories that emerged from our first look at the report.
June 6, 2014 The costs of losing social licence
The degree to which Canadians and others will grant social licence to resource development proposals and proponents will largely hinge on whether — and how — industry and governments choose to implement these solutions to environmental performance and carbon emissions.
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.
Feb. 19, 2013 Top clean energy opportunities for Canada in 2013
I asked four of Pembina’s directors what clean energy opportunities 2013 might have in store. Here’s what they had to say.
Oct. 29, 2013 Trending Bad: What Environment Canada's latest climate report says about Canada's carbon pollution
Last week, Environment Canada released its annual Emissions Trends report, projecting the path of Canada’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. This blog looks at what the report says and why it matters.
The Obama administration unveiled its significant plans to tackle carbon pollution from coal-fired electricity generation this week. Those plans include a commitment to reduce electricity emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and strong targets for near-term reductions by 2020.
It would be hard to count the number of times our present federal government has insisted that Canada's approach to climate change policy must be "harmonized" or "aligned" with the United States. Yet, despite all the political obstacles to taking serious action to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S., the Obama administration is moving ahead. Canada, meanwhile, appears determined to sit firmly on its hands.
In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) from large industrial facilities such as power plants and oil refineries under the Clean Air Act. It's a modest start, but an important step forward nonetheless.
These are just a few of the headlines from recent media coverage of the analysis published in Nature Climate Change, “The Alberta oil sands and climate.” Judging by the reaction captured in the news coverage, you’d think the oilsands were suddenly less polluting than they were last month, and that all the serious concerns associated with ramping up oilsands expansion were groundless.
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