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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.
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.
Amid all the controversy over pipeline projects recently, one critical fact is being overlooked: government regulators have already approved more than 5 million barrels per day of oilsands production, and we could reach that milestone just over two decades from now.
Public attitudes towards the environment have changed palpably and rapidly; Canada's record as one of the worst environmental performers in the world has taken its toll, and Canadians are telling anyone who will listen that fixing this disgraceful situation is a top concern.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper cited Alberta's version of carbon pricing as a model that could be applied at a national scale. Our analysis has found that an Alberta-style model could work at the national level — but it wouldn’t be ideal.
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.
Some politicians worry about protecting "business as usual" in reducing national greenhouse gas emissions, but what Alberta needs is "good growth," not growth that is inherently unsustainable and ignores serious global issues and concerns. Alberta doesn't have to settle for "business as usual." We have a choice in this province: take control of our own destiny and lead, or be dragged into the future by forces beyond our control.
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.
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.
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.
Judging by the turnover rate alone, it's clear that being Stephen Harper's environment minister isn't easy for anyone. But for the newest recruit, Thornhill MP Peter Kent, the assignment might be even tougher than usual. That's because Minister Kent took the job just as new U.S. regulations are shining a spotlight on our government's inaction on climate change.
Which country possesses the world's largest oil reserves, occupies last place in the international Climate Change Performance Index, and complains most loudly about the Kyoto Protocol? Many followers of international affairs may have no difficulty naming Saudi Arabia.
In this op-ed, Matthew Bramley, director of Pembina's climate change program, explains why Canada's stance on climate change bears surprising resemblances to that of the OPEC giant.
The recent UN climate conference in Bali concluded with governments adopting the "Bali Roadmap". But confidence in the environmental effectiveness of the agreement to be negotiated is undermined by the vagueness of the Roadmap text relating to the U.S. and developing countries.
Canada Blocks Climate Change Progress But Canada's fully capable of reaching an emissions target based on science while adding 1.2 million new jobs by 2020
Canada was once again accused of blocking progress on the crucial question of targets for industrialized countries.
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.
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.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a weak climate plan into Canada's election and won himself a stronger minority government - but there's reason to doubt that his proposed greenhouse gas regulations will ever see the light of day.
When Canada's federal government published an update to its regulatory approach for heavy industry this month, environmentalists hoped that this much-criticized proposal had been strengthened. Instead, it offered a mixed bag that probably served to weaken an already feeble approach.
Three consecutive environment ministers under Prime Minister Stephen Harper have failed to implement a single major policy to cut our growing emissions.
Imagine that Canada's Minister of Defence got up one day and announced that all our military decisions will be made jointly with the United States from now on. Canada and the U.S. would use the same tactics and embrace the same goals.
Hard to picture, perhaps. But it's more or less the approach that Environment Minister Jim Prentice laid out in a speech in Toronto last month.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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