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One year ago British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy that included a commitment to “transform the market for energy efficiency and lead the way to ‘net-zero’ buildings.” With the release of a 2014 Annual Progress Summary, it’s a good time to ask how B.C. has fared in keeping this promise.
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. 5, 2014 Lessons from B.C.’s carbon tax A backgrounder
It’s been hailed as an environmental and economic “success,” a “textbook case” in carbon pricing and “on the right track” toward good economic policy. British Columbia’s carbon tax has been in place for six years, and all available evidence shows it’s working.
Oct. 30, 2014 Three ideas to improve B.C.’s new carbon rules for LNG
Bill 2 (regulating carbon pollution from LNG terminals in B.C.) has significant flaws that will limit its potential benefit and could even weaken B.C.’s climate policies in a worst-case scenario. Here are three of the most important weaknesses and some ideas on how to address them.
Sept. 18, 2014 B.C. communities call for provincial cooperation on energy efficient buildings Five resolutions at UBCM's 2014 convention aim to increase the tools available to local governments
Six years after signing the Climate Action Charter, communities in B.C. continue to develop and pilot policies to improve energy efficiency in buildings, despite significant jurisdictional roadblocks.
Five resolutions at UBCM’s 2014 convention aim to resolve these challenges and help communities continue to lead on energy efficiency.
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.
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.
June 5, 2014 Climate change may be closer than you think
With climate change, there will be surprises — such as the news that the West Antarctic ice sheet is declining, and more quickly than expected.
The question is: when will the next surprise happen, and will we be prepared?
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.
March 4, 2014 A future of more weather and climate extremes
Any single weather event can be dismissed as usual weather variability. Although we must be prudent not to attribute every extreme — or indeed any particular one — to climate change, recent extreme events may indicate a new normal. The clustering and persistence of recent extremes around the world is a wake-up call to the power of nature and the threat of climate change.
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.
Jan. 15, 2014 More trouble with 2030
The federal government quietly released a new emissions report over the holidays. It projects a significant and sustained rise in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions unless we dramatically improve our climate policies. This post explores some of the other significant stories found in that report, particularly at the provincial level.
Jan. 10, 2014 B.C.’s LNG quiz doesn’t make the grade
If you’re like me, you worry that British Columbia’s government is rushing its pursuit of liquefied natural gas development without taking the time to think through and manage the consequences, both social and environmental. The province’s new LNG awareness quiz doesn’t ease those concerns.
Jan. 10, 2014 The trouble with 2030
Think Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions look bad today? Unfortunately, 2030 doesn’t look any rosier. In October, Environment Canada published projections estimating that current policies will see Canada miss the Harper government’s 2020 emissions target by 122 million tonnes. Now a new report offers us a glimpse of where Canada’s emissions are headed after 2020, adding projections for the next decade.
Jan. 7, 2014 Ottawa’s oil and gas sitcom
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any slower, Ottawa has yet another rationale for delaying greenhouse gas regulations for oil and gas companies. Worryingly, this one comes straight from the top.
Earlier this year, Natural Resources Canada commissioned a study to evaluate aspects of the European Union’s Fuel Quality Directive. Canada has been lobbying very aggressively against the FQD, since fuels derived from natural bitumen (oilsands) would be assigned a higher carbon intensity value than those derived from conventional crudes.
The report was released on Wednesday but, despite the government's rhetoric, it offers nothing to discredit the directive. Rather, its findings seem to generally reinforce the defensibility of the Commission’s proposed approach.
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.
Oct. 29, 2013 Pacific Coast Action Plan signals progress on climate
Yesterday, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington, along with B.C. Premier Christy Clark, announced their Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy. Speaking for the 53 million people they represent, the four leaders made substantive commitments around carbon pricing, low-carbon transportation and energy efficient buildings, and more.
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.
It’s not often we see international praise for climate change policy in Canada, but that’s exactly what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did in a recent report, highlighting British Columbia’s carbon tax as a leading example of carbon pricing.
Oct. 11, 2013 Unfortunate approval of Fortune Creek gas processing plant highlights flaws in B.C.’s LNG plan
The B.C. government has approved the construction of a new gas processing plant north of Fort Nelson. The news release heralding its approval doesn’t mention liquefied natural gas (LNG) but — make no mistake — this plant is being proposed to feed the demand for additional natural gas from any liquefaction facilities in northwest B.C., if they are constructed.
Sept. 30, 2013 Joint climate action for Keystone fails to persuade
It’s been a few weeks since news broke that Stephen Harper had written to Barack Obama about the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, offering “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector” in exchange for his approval of the project.
So far there is little evidence that the Obama Administration is interested in accepting Harper’s offer. If Harper did fail to catch Obama’s interest with his letter, it’s worth asking why.
By the end of September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will finalize the first instalment of its Fifth Assessment Report. This will focus on the physical science basis for the threat of climate change. Some of the conclusions have already been leaked and have been the subject of divergent media stories. The purpose of this blog is to provide a guide to help understand the IPCC Report when it is released.
Sept. 20, 2013 B.C.’s Climate Action Charter deserves national recognition
We’ve always known that British Columbia has great ideas when it comes to taking action on climate change, but it’s nice to know that other people are paying attention.
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?
Aug. 27, 2013 Clean Energy Champions: John Ruffolo
John Ruffolo, one of Canada's leading venture capitalists, belives that fostering a successful clean energy technology sector in Canada means more than just providing capital to startups — it means creating an ecosystem that supports their success.
Aug. 8, 2013 Trust us? Canada's climate credibility challenge
Canada has a credibility problem. As U.S. President Barack Obama implements his new climate plan and considers the proposed Keystone XL pipeline's emissions, Ottawa hopes to convince him that we're suddenly serious about fighting climate change. Our record is plain to see, and so far it plainly shows the opposite.
July 26, 2013 Despite carbon tax, sky isn’t falling in B.C.
An article by the Brookings Institution earlier this year said it best: “Want a pro-growth pro-environment plan? Economists agree: tax carbon.” Now a new study of B.C.’s carbon tax is adding further valuable evidence in support of the carbon tax as a smart and effective policy for curbing emissions and driving innovation.
While Calgary celebrates its resilience at a “Hell or High Water” Stampede, Toronto is drying out after a dramatic storm that saw more rain fall in two hours than the city usually sees in the entire month of July.
Even if you don’t live in Southern Alberta or Mississauga, floods are fodder for dinner table conversations across the country right now. And more and more Canadians are asking whether what we’re seeing is climate change.
July 8, 2013 Three reasons to take Obama’s climate plan seriously
President Obama recently outlined a detailed climate action plan in a speech at Georgetown University. P.J. gives three reasons to be optimistic about the new plan.
May 23, 2013 Moving oilsands to market — by pipeline or rail?
Earlier this week, five CP Rail tank cars jumped the tracks just outside of Jansen, Saskatchewan, spilling more than 91,000 litres of crude oil. Last month, a similar derailment near White River, Ontario, resulted in a 63,000-litre oil spill.
While these trains were not carrying bitumen from the oilsands, it’s becoming increasingly common to move oilsands by rail, particularly as public opposition to various new pipeline proposals continues to grow and oilsands producers seek other shipping options.
May 14, 2013 Scientists offer much-needed reality check on climate implications of Ottawa’s resource agenda
As other countries face up to the climate challenge and begin curbing their demand for fossil fuels, will Canada be left waiting on the shore for tankers that will never come?
It’s down to the wire now. The B.C. election is less than a week away. Wondering how the climate will fare? Well, that depends on outcome of the election and, based on our platform assessment there could be significant progress, or significant backsliding.
It seems that barely a week goes by without a federal cabinet minister saying we’re “halfway” to meeting our 2020 greenhouse gas target. So here’s the explanation of why the government says we’re halfway, what the line really means, and what Jon Bon Jovi has to do with Canada’s emission projections.
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.
April 12, 2013 What Minister Oliver didn’t read
Canada’s Natural Resources minister, Joe Oliver, recently shared his views on climate change and energy with La Presse. The Minister is quoted that he did not read the climate change section of the IEA report or their warning about locking into a path to dangerous climate change. To hopefully inform his next briefing, I’ve summarized the two scenarios below.
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.
News broke this week that Alberta is considering strengthening greenhouse gas regulations on the province’s energy industry. The so-called “40/40” plan proposed by the Environment Minister Diana McQueen would increase Alberta’s intensity-based emissions target and its carbon price. The very mention of such a move has kicked off a long-overdue conversation about what it’s going to take to curtail greenhouse gas pollution and develop Alberta’s resources responsibly.
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.
With consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal heading into the home stretch, a parade of Canadian politicians have been making the trek to the U.S. to try to convince the Obama Administration of the pipeline’s merits.
The good news is that the recent visitors — from Premiers Redford and Wall to federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver — now acknowledge that Canada’s environmental record is crucial to the upcoming U.S. decision.
The bad news is that there are some gaping holes in that record.
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