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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.
“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.
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.
July 4, 2014 B.C. Climate Action Plan 2.0?
In case you weren’t poring over government news releases on the Monday before Canada Day, you might have missed B.C.’s 2014 Climate Progress Report. While it has some controversial elements, it’s predominantly positive news that merits attention.
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.
Nov. 7, 2011 B.C. paves the way for cleaner cars
It's an exciting day for climate-conscious British Columbians as an important step has been taken to reduce the greenhouse gas pollution caused by burning gasoline and diesel in our cars.
June 25, 2012 Being a Smarter Driver pays off – and now I’m hooked
I have become a fuel economy junkie.
I can no longer drive without obsessing over the fuel economy gauge in the centre of the dashboard. The LCD display provides real-time information on the amount of fuel being used to propel the car that I am driving. My spirits rise and fall with its every movement. When the number falls — 4.7, 4.6, right on, 4.2! — I’m on a high! When the number climbs — 6.7, 7.5, no, 9.2! — I’m crestfallen.
Aug. 20, 2010 Bridging the Gulf between commuting and oil impacts
"Windmills not Oil Spills" — I saw this bumper sticker during the BP disaster. A Google search unearthed some even more provocative bumper stickers: "Plug the Damn Hole!" and "Way to go Gashole."
I'm hoping the vehicle owners that brandish these stickers will also realize the irony of an anti-oil sticker on a gasoline-fuelled bumper, regardless of its tagline. Surely they understand the connection between the Gulf disaster and their own steering wheel?
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.
Aug. 24, 2012 Clean Energy Champions: sustainable transportation advocate relies on Pembina Institute expertise
Although Michael Warren is best known for his leadership in the revitalization of two of Canada’s largest and most controversial public enterprises — the Toronto Transit Commission and Canada Post Corporation — today he volunteers much of his time to commenting on public policy for The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and Sun Media newspapers. Writing three or four pieces a month, Michael explores solutions to pressing public concerns related to the environment, urban design, transit, energy, and other social issues.
Feb. 20, 2014 Closing the downtown–suburban divide
It’s high time that we stopped thinking of downtown and the suburbs as enemies. In reality, they have more in common than ever before.
I want a medal for dedication. Saturday I gave up skiing in two feet of glorious sun-drenched snow to crowd inside Metro Hall for a public roundtable hosted by Metrolinx to debate how best to raise public dollars to fund transit expansion — one of a series of consultations currently taking place across the Toronto and Hamilton region.
Those of us who drive cars typically have our favourite road tunes. One of my favourites is Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, off the Physical Graffiti album. Any self-respecting, Zeppelin-loving driver knows a particularly sublime feeling: slowly pushing on that gas pedal to the beat of Jimmy Page’s rising, signature chord progression riff in Kashmir, watching that speedometer creep up to 90 klicks an hour, then 100, 110, 120…. “I am a traveller of both time and space, to be where I have been….”
March 28, 2013 Driving forward with electric vehicles in British Columbia
On Tuesday morning the government of British Columbia extended their Clean Energy Vehicles program. This means for at least the next year, residents of B.C. will continue to receive an incentive of up to $5,000 when purchasing an electric vehicle. Here are five more ideas for British Columbia to support the transition to more electric transportation.
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?
When I was growing up at Highway 7 and Bayview Avenue in Markham, the bus showed up when it felt like it. An hour could pass while you waited at the stop.
This Sunday, I ventured back to my homeland and did something I never would have considered as a teenager: I chose to ride the bus along Highway 7. But this was no ordinary bus: it was an example of bus rapid transit, an outstanding transit option for low-density neighbourhoods.
Road pricing in Toronto could be right on the money, says Cherise Burda in response to a recent article in the Toronto Star citing public displeasure with the idea. It just needs some thoughtful politicians to make tough but informed decisions that provide commuters with choices.
Dec. 18, 2013 Fuelling our way out of traffic congestion
Last week, the premier’s advisory panel on transit investment proposed a strategy to raise funds for transit expansion while minimizing the burden on taxpayers. The panel’s strategy includes a gas tax, which became a lightning rod in the subsequent discussion. However, the cost of inaction far exceeds to costs of a gas tax, which would pay for a regional rapid transit network and alleviate congestion.
This week Toronto City Council meets to decide on whether or not to accept the recommendations from the Expert Advisory Panel regarding transit on Sheppard Avenue East. The panel, which released its report on Friday, concluded that light rail transit (LRT) was the better option for Sheppard Avenue, not just because it is most cost effective, but for a variety of other benefits.
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.
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.
June 23, 2010 If the oilsands aren’t high carbon, why do oilsands proponents spend so much time fighting low carbon fuel standards?
At the same time as they are fighting low carbon fuel standards, oilsands proponents are also heavily engaged in a campaign to convince the public that their greenhouse gas emissions are essentially no different from other crude oils. They can’t have it both ways.
May 16, 2012 It’s time to speak out for nature and democracy
Grassroots campaigning is not something that comes naturally to us here at the Pembina Institute. But the level of public discourse over energy issues and environmental protection in this country has sunk so low over the past few months that even Canadians who are well informed have just cause to wonder who to believe.
April 5, 2010 Key to unlocking gridlock in report findings
We probably couldn't have planned a better release date for Driving Down Carbon, a report we published today looking at the impacts of how Ontarians get around. It coincides with recent findings that show gridlock in Toronto is among the worst for big cities. And it's necessary to give context to recent transit cuts, new vehicle emissions standards and climate commitments.
There's good news and there's bad news behind the federal government's recently announced plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new personal vehicles.
The good news is that these regulations represent a step toward addressing a key source of Canada's climate change pollution, since about 12 per cent of national GHG emissions come from personal vehicles. The bad news is, there appear to be enough loopholes in the regulations to prevent them from making much of a difference.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford claims on his Facebook page that the Pembina Institute’s 2011 analysis of Toronto transit options support his case for a Sheppard Subway. Although we are pleased to see that the Mayor appreciates our work, some of his points require clarification.
The first paper released by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel unpacked some hard truths about transit. Those truths include how the cost of transit encompasses much more than just the cost of building it, and how building transit to an area doesn’t mean that development will come.
If the government is honestly asking taxpayers to contribute to the next wave of Big Move projects, it must be smart and responsible with everyone’s money. The panel needs to ensure that investments in transit provide maximum benefits and deliver tangible results, both in the short and long terms.
May 27, 2011 Moving Canada toward a new energy vision
We need a new energy vision for Canada — and the Pembina Institute's history, as well as the wide range of experience within our organization, puts us in a strong position to advance this vision.
March 28, 2011 Moving forward with a transit plan for Toronto
Lately it's been pretty quiet here in "Transit Nation." This may be the calm before the storm; surely any day now we will learn the fate of Mayor Ford's newest transit proposal. In advance of any final decision, Pembina has completed an analysis of the new plan, comparing how it stacks up against phase one of Transit City.
Dec. 12, 2013 New dollars, new transit
Today, the premier’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel proposed a transit funding strategy that represents a consensus on how to raise new dollars. It passed the tests set by thirteen panel members representing diverse interests — including labour, business, developers and drivers — and is a well-thought-out proposal that deserves serious consideration from the broader public.
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.
It may seem like stating the obvious — commuters who take the train (whether subway, Go transit or proposed light-rail) to and from work produce less air pollution than those who drive. The same goes for shipping. Moving freight out of trucks and onto trains and providing commuters with rapid, affordable transit options in and around Toronto will reduce smog, clear up traffic congestion, fight climate change, improve people's health and save Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
Unfortunately, the benefits of replacing road transportation with rapid transit have often been obscured in the highly charged debate over transportation planning in the Toronto region. Those benefits are the focus of a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and Sustainable Prosperity.
The federal government took a step forward today in curbing greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars and trucks, announcing regulations aligned with new U.S. federal rules that will cover new cars sold from 2011 to 2016. The U.S. rules that Canada plans to align with have been strengthened by President Obama from a weak starting point proposed by President Bush.
If they go ahead as planned, the regulations will finally move Canada from a voluntary approach to greenhouse gas pollution from passenger vehicles to a mandatory one — an important step that needs to take place across the rest of Canada's economy.
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.
Feb. 18, 2011 No such thing as a free ride
Earlier this week, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's office proposed a private financing deal to pay for a Sheppard subway extension east to Scarborough City Centre and west to Downsview station.
This paints what on the surface may appear to be a rosy picture — build the Sheppard extension and use provincial funds for transit elsewhere in the city. However, digging a little deeper suggests this option is far from being fiscally responsible.
April 30, 2013 Ontario Budget: Let’s not let auto insurance concessions “collide” with our goals to reduce gridlock
For the Wynne government to pass its first budget, it may have to consider some policies demanded by the NDP, including rolling back auto insurance premiums by 15 per cent. While insurance rates are higher in Ontario than in some other provinces, there are better policy solutions to offer drivers a break without undermining other key government priorities — namely reducing congestion in the GTA.
May 13, 2013 Ontario’s transit funding debate is getting HOT
The provincial budget saw the introduction of Ontario’s first (and modest) revenue tool to fund transit: high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. With the provincial budget hot off the press, now is a good time to examine how HOT lanes work and what impact they have on congestion, as well as commuters.
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