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The wrap-up of UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, comes at a significant time for Alberta. Canada is not on track to hit its 2020 climate target, and the growth in Alberta’s carbon pollution is a significant barrier. But Alberta’s new climate strategy is expected by the end of the year, and the province has several big opportunities to turn things around.
As the world’s governments meet in Lima this week to discuss what to do about climate change, many are already looking ahead to the next round of climate talks in Paris. Those same governments have agreed to strike a new deal to shape the global response to climate change in a year’s time. And there’s good reason to be optimistic that an agreement could be reached in 2015.
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.
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.
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.
Chances are the electricity meter in your home is dumb as a sack of hammers. We head to Medicine Hat, Alberta, to find out what smart meters are, and we talk to the CEO of a company that makes smart meters even smarter.
The B.C. government has consistently overstated the potential benefits of LNG. Such polarizing rhetoric is unproductive at best.
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?
American poet, philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
A net-zero home reimagines the house not as a burden on the planet but as a regenerative node. Thoreau and his time at Walden Pond happened well before the modern spectre of climate change, but he was a naturalist and keenly attuned to what was going on around him.
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.
Net-Zero simple: How passive solar energy gets you close to zero Episode three of Green Energy Futures' Chasing Net-Zero series
It’s a beautiful, livable, functional net-zero experiment — welcome to the home of architect Shafraaz Kaba.
“As an architect, we are always testing new ideas. We are creating little experiments for ourselves to prove that something is possible, or to prove different materials work well together. We even just want to know for ourselves that things can actually work out well before we try it on clients,” says Kaba.
Net-zero beautiful: How design and location can reduce your energy footprint Green Energy Futures - Infill revitalizes neighbourhoods
In part II of our Chasing net zero series we look at Innovative infill home design that can help reduce your energy footprint. Also learn how a solar home competition is helping make cool solar homes that are more and more affordable.
Net-Zero 101: The incredible rapid rise of net-zero homes Green Energy Futures - A home that produces as much energy as it consumes
Over the course of a year a net-zero home will generate as much energy as it consumes. They’ve been around for less than 10 years, but these buildings and the thinking behind them are taking North America by storm as we learn in Net Zero 101.
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
New polling research by the Pembina Institute, Clean Energy Canada and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions shows that nearly 9 out of 10 British Columbians think hitting our climate targets is a priority for the province.
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.
British Columbians want an energy shift Strong majority want B.C. to transition away from using and exporting fossil fuelsOp-Ed
New opinion research commissioned by the Pembina Institute, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, and Clean Energy Canada shows that the majority of British Columbians not only want to move away from using and exporting fossil fuels, they also see economic benefits in doing so.
The Pembina Institute, Arctic Energy Alliance, and Dehcho First Nations teamed up to organize a Dehcho Community Renewable Energy Forum last month in Fort Providence, NWT, to provide opportunities to hear from technical experts about biomass and solar energy options, as well as from communities about the challenges and the lessons they’ve learned when it comes to renewable energy projects.
This year, the Pembina Institute will again be joining Scotiabank’s EcoLiving Awards judging panel. Be sure to encourage energy efficiency innovators you know to submit an application by March 15!
The Government of Alberta has promised to make energy efficiency a priority. One of the key areas where improvements can be made is the energy efficiency in Alberta’s buildings.
Ontario’s electricity system is often maligned, and more often misunderstood. Providing a multi-billion dollar essential service that employs thousands of people in competing industries is a tall order — doubly so when you’re trying to keep pollution levels and prices down. As we head into a new year, it’s important to take a step back and acknowledge some important gains the province has made so far.
This month, Ontario prudently decided that new nuclear reactors will not be part of the province’s forthcoming long-term energy plan. As Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli explained, “It is not wise to spend billions and billions of dollars on new nuclear when that power is not needed.”
That said, the government still appears to be committed to refurbishing the 10 existing reactors at the Bruce and Darlington nuclear stations. Is that a wise investment?
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?
Amid debates on energy development, Nova Scotia has quietly emerged as a Canadian leader when it comes to reducing energy waste. As discussions about a national energy strategy continue across Canada, more eyes will turn to Nova Scotia for ways to reduce pollution, cut energy costs and drive economic development.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sadly, Canada isn’t the shining example of coal-curbing excellence that Harper’s ministers are claiming. When it comes to regulating greenhouse gases from coal power, we’re doing about the same as our neighbours to the South — and may well be eclipsed before too long. As for “getting out of the dirty coal electricity generation business,” Canada won’t be fulfilling that commitment until 2062.
A recent article in the Vancouver Sun raised questions about the costs and merits of a city-run pilot program to encourage homeowners to invest in energy efficiency, describing the program as having “bombed.” The program did have much lower uptake than expected; however, judging its success on this factor alone misses the bigger picture.
As recently as 2009, Mr. Harper sounded much like Obama, referring to hopes of Canada becoming a “clean energy superpower.” But with his government’s current focus on accelerating development of Canada’s fossil fuel commodities — from oilsands to shale gas and coal — he now talks only of Canada as a “natural-resources powerhouse,” risking our prospects of competing in clean energy.
“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.
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.
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.
The Better Future Fund is an interesting experiment for the Pembina Institute. By directly link our traditional efforts on policy change with a public mobilization effort, we’re showing government how important action on climate change is, not just to environmental organizations like ours, but for all British Columbians.
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.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently came out with a scorecard measuring the energy efficiency of 12 of the world’s largest economies. Canada finished second last — right between Brazil and Russia. The U.K. and Germany topped the list. So why did Canada do so badly?
All too often in the world of climate policy we’re confronted by a lack of progress, so it’s encouraging when there is some positive news to report. A trio of reports from B.C. this week all pointed to some initial success emerging from the province’s Climate Action Plan — an initial success that we hope will kick start a "What’s next?" conversation in the province.
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.
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