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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.
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.
We must be close to a turning point in investing in the environment, because the budget tabled today couldn't do much less.
“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.
Dec. 13, 2010 A leader who gave the Pembina Institute room to grow
It's an impressive run by any measure. Under the leadership of Marlo Raynolds the Pembina Institute doubled its budget, doubled its staff, improved its media presence three-fold and almost quadrupled its output of reports and ideas for a sustainable energy 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.
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.
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.
Finance Minister de Jong will have the final say on which of these recommendations are included in the 2015 budget. My general recommendation would be the same one that I made in a presentation to the Committee in September: Use the provincial budget as one of the tools to advance Climate Action Plan 2.0. That advice still holds and the Committee has offered a number of ideas that would help to move the budget in that direction.
Economic development discussions in B.C. too often centre on large-scale proposals like LNG terminals, oilsands pipelines or hydroelectric dams like Site C. While they don’t generate the same headlines, it’s small- to medium-sized companies that are actually driving the provincial economy, employing 94 per cent of B.C.’s private sector employees.
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?
March 21, 2011 Budget 2011: A checklist for clean energy success
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.
Aug. 9, 2014 Canada has a bright future in green energy, success stories show Green Energy Futures now at Pembina.org
Pembina's Green Energy Futures episodes are now featured at Pembin.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While leadership at all political levels is critical to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, cities and towns are often the places where the rubber hits the road on climate action.
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."
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.
Oct. 10, 2014 Earthship sets sail in southern Alberta with help of Green Energy Futures editor A radically sustainable home
When you tell people you’re building an Earthship there are two stock responses. First there are the believers. These are the people who’ve watched Garbage Warrior, twice. They want to talk design and permits and timeline. They’re into it. The other stock response is an incredulous repeating of the word back to you with a question mark attached. Earthship?
Eight local governments have called on the province to consider improving energy efficiency and renewable energy standards for homes and buildings in a letter to the B.C. government.
We know that British Columbia’s electricity is primarily fossil fuel-free and electric vehicles are now available in Canada (with several provinces offering rebates), but if we were in an electric car and had to “fill up the tank” what would we do?
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.
March 28, 2013 Farewell to National Round Table on Environment and Economy
Last year’s federal budget gave the order to shut the NRTEE down on March 31, 2013, but you can find an unofficial archive of their work online, including a list of their publications dating back to the early 1990s.
Jan. 18, 2010 Federal Spending on Wind Farms a Smart Investment
A new wind farm approved recently for east-central Alberta will not only be the province's largest, but will also be one of the last to benefit from federal support through the depleted ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program.
July 7, 2014 Future-proofing the oil and gas sector
Energy companies are doubling down on oil, even as the likelihood of government action on climate change has never been higher. If local leaders like Cenovus are getting out of the renewables game, what does that mean for the oil and gas sector’s ability to proactively adapt to a carbon-constrained world?
Recently I was reminded that anything with a temperature above absolute zero (0 Kelvin, or -273°C) has energy in it.
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 13, 2010 Guest Post: Tyler Hamilton on how Margaret Wente continues to mislead, misinform Canadians
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.
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.
When President Obama came to Ottawa last year, one of the few items that was agreed upon was to engage in a so-called "Clean Energy Dialogue". Looking at the budgets that the governments on both sides of the border have released since then, it appears as though our American friends have a lot more to talk about.
Oct. 20, 2014 Integrated bio-refinery produces ethanol, heat, power and fertilizer from 500 tonnes of cow poop per day
Learn how a grain farm in rural Alberta diversified its operations and ended up with a feedlot, a biogas plant and an ethanol plant — with one business upcycling the waste from another.
Oct. 14, 2014 Is Alberta Canada's next big solar market? Green Energy Futures talks to industry reps and Alberta's energy minister at the CanSIA Solar West conference
On a bright fall day in early October in a packed ballroom in a downtown Calgary hotel, Frank Oberle made his first speech as energy minister to Alberta’s small solar industry.
Feb. 28, 2011 Is there a “silver bullet” for climate change?
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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