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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.
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.
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.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Though originally written as a social criticism of the period leading up to the French Revolution, Charles Dickens’ words seem an equally appropriate characterization of the past year for energy and environment issues in Canada.
June 24, 2010 A bit more optimism on the road to Toronto
Heading into this weekend's high-profile G8 and G20 summits, the main climate story in Canada had been Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to downplay the role of climate change on the leaders' agendas.
But with just a day before the summits get underway, Environment Minister Jim Prentice has added some promising news to Canada's international climate story, thanks to the long-awaited announcement of the government's contribution to "fast start" climate financing.
Dec. 13, 2010 A long way from Copenhagen, but a long way left to go
The UN climate talks that wrapped up over the weekend in Cancun went a long way towards healing the wounds from last year's disappointing Copenhagen negotiations.
In some ways, the Cancun talks became Copenhagen's mirror image, and not just because of the contrast between the sparkling waves and sunshine of Cancun and the wintry Danish capital.
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.
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.
Today marks a landmark shift in opposition to continued expansion of oilsands development, with the start of a hearing into the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s (ACFN) constitutional challenge against Shell Canada’s application to expand the Jackpine Mine oilsands project. The first of its kind in Alberta, the constitutional challenge is based in part on concerns that Shell’s project will impact the ACFN’s ability to exercise treaty rights such as hunting and fishing in a meaningful way into the future.
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.
There is no doubt energy will be on the agenda for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit with U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday. Whether talking about climate change or oil, the two countries are closely intertwined. And Harper might want to think carefully before promoting Canadian leadership on climate change or oilsands development.
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.
Like a lot of climate colleagues from around the world, I'll be packing my flip-flops later this week for the UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico. Although I've never been much of a beach person, I'm hoping that the two-week conference can deliver some of the building blocks we need for a global effort to tackle climate change.
April 17, 2014 Big shiny trends: Canada’s new emissions numbers
Every year, industrialized countries publish their national inventories of carbon pollution. Canada’s vast and detailed report, meticulously assembled by Environment Canada, gives us a thorough picture of where our greenhouse gas emissions come from, and how they have changed since 1990. We check in on three key stories in the 2014 inventory report.
March 30, 2012 Budget 2012: Canada won’t spare a penny for clean energy
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.
Aug. 2, 2011 Can Obama help us cut our gas bills?
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.
Recently we learned that Canada plans to follow the Obama administration's lead in requiring manufacturers and importers to meet new fuel-efficiency standards to lower greenhouse gas emissions for large trucks and buses.
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.
Oct. 5, 2010 Canada's "fair share" is not as advertised
Last week saw the federal government finally reveal where Canada's 2010 international climate financing contribution will go. Unfortunately, the news shows that Canada's contribution to helping poor countries tackle climate change is much less than it appeared when first announced.
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.
Dec. 13, 2011 Canada’s Kyoto math doesn’t add up
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.
We got sad news last night about Canada's Climate Change Accountability
Act, a private member's bill that could have helped move Canada into a
leadership role in tackling global warming.
Before it even had a chance to be debated, the bill was defeated by Conservative Senators in a surprise vote.
Dec. 6, 2011 Canada’s performance and positions in Durban
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.
April 29, 2011 Cap-and-trade's costs — and benefits
Responding to Jack Layton's surge in the polls, Stephen Harper spent some time on Thursday going after the NDP's cap-and-trade plan, saying that it would add 10 cents a litre to the price Canadians pay at the pumps. Based on the specifics of the NDP proposal, Pembina's analysis suggests a more accurate assessment of the impact on consumers would be a no higher than four cents a litre.
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.
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.
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.
Jan. 17, 2013 Climate concerns are key in Keystone XL pipeline debate
To help inform the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, the Pembina Institute has produced a backgrounder about the climate impacts associated with the proposed pipeline. The backgrounder features new analysis showing that producing enough bitumen to fill the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and inhibit Canada’s ability to meet its climate targets.
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.
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.
Dec. 6, 2012 Crunch time at the Doha climate negotiations
The international climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar are heading into the home stretch, and the stakes are high.
Pembina has published a new report about the potential climate impacts associated with the proposed Energy East pipeline. Our research shows that producing the crude required to fill the pipeline would significantly increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and make it even more difficult to meet our climate targets.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has shed new light on the dangers of shipping raw oilsands through pipelines today.
This major U.S. environmental organization's findings have implications for both the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. and the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal, and should be heeded by governments and the public alike.
April 27, 2010 Delays to U.S. climate law no excuse for Canada to stall
Action to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States suffered a setback over the weekend, when it emerged that plans to unveil a bipartisan Senate climate and energy bill on Monday had been postponed. Does this spell delays for Canada too? We don't think it should.
As parting shots go, Scott Vaughan’s was a powerful one.
With the release of his final report as Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development last week, Vaughan made the case that the development of our natural resources is running dangerously ahead of Canada’s laws and policies to protect the environment.
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.
If you think 567 pages of emissions data would make a boring read, this week's news just proved you wrong. Canada's most recent report to the UN's climate change convention has proven surprisingly controversial, not so much for what's in it as for what was left out.
June 1, 2010 Dispatch from the Great Bear Rainforest: On the scene of a battle shaping up to be bigger than Clayoquot Sound
Kitamaat Village, B.C. — Sometimes it takes tar balls washing up on beaches, as the people of the Gulf coast are experiencing due to the BP oil spill, before we really get the environmental risk we've allowed to threaten our land, air and water.
But that's not the case here on B.C.'s North Coast, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest and home to a growing opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.
Nov. 8, 2013 Documents raise concern over industry influence on delayed oilsands emissions regulations
This week, the Pembina Institute reviewed a package of documents obtained under Alberta’s Freedom of Information legislation about future Alberta and federal greenhouse gas regulations.
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