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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.
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.
There’s a common misconception that increasing the supply of renewable energy to the electricity grid drives up power costs in Alberta. In fact, clean energy is lowering Albertans’ electricity costs.
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.
The B.C. government has consistently overstated the potential benefits of LNG. Such polarizing rhetoric is unproductive at best.
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.
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.
Tuesday’s B.C. budget unveiled the first substantive information on the province’s promised liquefied natural gas tax. While the budget did provide some welcome clarity, many questions remain unanswered — most importantly how much money will be collected from a given amount of exported LNG. Here’s a look at some of the province’s bigger fiscal pieces that will apply to the LNG supply chain in B.C. if any projects do proceed.
In its rush to build new projects and ramp up production, the oilsands industry is driving an unfamiliar road with its foot jammed on the gas pedal — regardless of what turns or hazards may lie ahead.
No one can deny that oilsands development has brought significant economic benefit. But increased dependence on a volatile natural resource sector carries some risks to Canada as well.
Judging from the many conversations that unfolded on Twitter over the past few days, there appears to be a lot of confusion around how fee-for-service consulting works and why an organization like the Pembina Institute is committed to producing some of the best sustainability consulting services in the business. As our clients know, our consulting work is one of various approaches that support our mandate — to lead Canada’s transition to a clean energy future.
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.
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.
In the debate over which combination of revenue tools would best support the expansion of transit in the Toronto region, an unexpected option has emerged as a top pick. Travis Allan and Cherise Burda take a closer look at the development charge and its potential to fund transit and improve urban planning at the same time.
Albertans don’t just pay to ride the resource rollercoaster — they risk having to clean up once the carnival leaves town
There’s a carnival in town, and everyone is talking about its main attraction — the mighty resource rollercoaster that is taking Alberta’s and Canada’s economies for a wild ride. Albertans are already paying a premium at the ticket booth, but few have noticed the fine print on the bottom of the receipt: once the carnival leaves town, ticketholders may be left paying for the cleanup costs.
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.
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.
The social, economic and environmental malady of gridlock in greater Toronto can be cured. This week, the Toronto Region Board of Trade prescribed a treatment to raise the $2 billion a year needed to fund the Big Move regional transportation plan: a combination of small regional sales and gasoline taxes, a commercial parking levy, and paid express lanes.
Q&A: How the Board of Trade’s transit funding proposal would drive the Toronto region in the right direction
Earlier today, the Toronto Region Board of Trade released its bold proposal to address gridlock and expand transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The benefit of the four tools proposed by the Board is that they can be spread among the tax base, be kept relatively low for each tool, such as for a regional sales tax and fuel tax, and not hit one sector or user group hard.
Draft U.S. environmental assessment understates significance of Keystone XL for oilsands expansion and climate emissions
Late last Friday, the U.S. State Department released its draft assessment of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s environmental impacts, marking a significant milestone toward the impending White House decision on the project’s fate.
The release of a controversial U.S. State Department environmental impact assessment late last week signalled a new phase in the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. The already-tense process looks set to get even more fraught as the technical phase starts to wrap up and the decision shifts squarely into the political arena.
Initial observations of the outcome of B.C.'s carbon tax review presented in B.C.’s 2013 Budget
As parting shots go, Scott Vaughan’s was a powerful one.
With the release of his final report as Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development last week, Vaughan made the case that the development of our natural resources is running dangerously ahead of Canada’s laws and policies to protect the environment.
Last week, Alberta’s Premier Alison Redford took to TV sets across the province to tell Albertans to brace for impact. The “bitumen bubble,” she said, is growing and about to burst. The result is an impending deficit of over $6 billion — the equivalent of Alberta’s total spending on education.
“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.
Historically speaking, Canadian energy issues haven’t always played as prominently on the global stage as they do today. In 2006, the oilsands were just an emerging story, known principally to investors on the hunt for returns (although Pembina has been working on oilsands issues since the mid-1980s). It took Ralph Klein, then-premier of Alberta, parking an oilsands heavy hauler within eyesight of the U.S. Congress for the broader environmental community to get well and truly fired up over oilsands development. Within a few short years, Canada’s bitumen mines would be making front-page headlines worldwide.
Canada’s financial sector appears to be enjoying its own ‘mine truck’ moment.
In a column published earlier this week, I explained how there are some economic downsides to oilsands expansion that need to be part of the conversation, as well as the upsides.
Today I want to point out the real elephant in the room for any discussion about the oilsands and Canada’s future: climate change. Until we see far stronger government policies to curtail greenhouse gas pollution, oilsands expansion plans simply can’t be reconciled with a responsible Canadian effort to tackle climate change.
Picture Alberta’s oilsands. If you’re thinking of gigantic mines, oozing bitumen or smokestacks, think again: according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada, what you should be seeing is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The Conference Board’s report offers a starry-eyed view of the economic benefits of oilsands development, but comes up short on examining the other side of the balance sheet.
The proposed takeover of Nexen by China’s state-owned CNOOC Ltd. has Canada’s pollsters, politicians and pundits busily talking up the pros and cons of Chinese investment in Canada’s resources — and last week’s announcement of an extension of Industry Canada’s review means that conversation is far from over.
Maybe this summer’s record-setting droughts triggered something in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s mind. Or maybe his communications team just didn’t want the hassle of creating a new line of attack when they could pull one ready-made out of their files. But for whatever reason, climate policy is back on the agenda in Ottawa with a vengeance: the opening of Parliament featured a line-up of Conservative MPs slamming NDP leader Thomas Mulcair for his alleged support for a carbon tax.
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 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.
Last week, energy consultant Aldyen Donnelly presented a dizzying array of numbers and claims to criticize a recent study on British Columbia’s carbon tax that was co-authored by the Pembina Institute and the Energy and Materials Research Group at Simon Fraser University.
The problem is, Donnelly’s numbers ignored much of the important evidence on B.C.’s carbon tax and similar policies around the world.
With the passage of the omnibus budget bill, the Harper government has begun downloading oversight and dismantling environmental protection in order to expedite oilsands development and pipelines to new markets. Harper’s cabinet ministers frequently remind Canadians that increased oilsands development is needed to generate the tax revenue needed to support delivery of the services and programs we all hold dear, like education and healthcare.
But over the past several months that mantra has been challenged, with various think-tanks, analysts and pundits fuelling an important discussion about the economic impacts — both positive and negative — of booming oilsands development.
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.
Canada needs more light and less heat on the economic impacts of oilsands expansion.
When it comes to energy issues, the list of things that are apparently too “divisive” to discuss seems to grow by the day — from climate change and pollution reduction, to a national energy strategy, and most recently the impacts of booming oilsands development across the Canadian economy.
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.
Over the months ahead, expect to hear frequent references to a new report released Wednesday comparing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with oilsands production to emissions from other sources of crude oil used in Europe. We took a close read of the report, prepared for the Government of Alberta by Jacobs Consultancy, and there seems to be a problem: the report’s findings about how oilsands compare to conventional oil do not tell the full story, and government documents appear to misinterpret the implications of those findings.
While spring in Ontario has yet to bring much rain, there’s been no shortage of mudslinging over rising electricity prices. While there’s more to these changes than critics of renewable energy would you have you believe, new data helps to clarify how recent prices have more to do with nuclear than with clean energy programs.
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