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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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Clare Demerse, federal policy director at the Pembina Institute, explains why Canada's reluctance to take leadership on climate policy makes Keystone XL a tough sell.
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.
The UN climate talks in Doha wrapped up over the weekend with a deal that delayed many of the tough issues to future negotiations. While countries did the minimum they needed to do to keep the process moving, they failed to push much beyond those bare-bones expectations. And unfortunately, Canada was once again part of the problem.
The international climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar are heading into the home stretch, and the stakes are high.
If Canadians could have voted in the U.S. presidential election, the majority likely would have re-elected Barack Obama, according to polling from the BBC on global attitudes toward the two candidates. But now that President Obama has returned to the White House, many Canadians are wondering what his second term could mean for Canadian interests, particularly oilsands development.
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.
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?
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.
Rolled into the federal government’s budget implementation bill are a curt few lines repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. In the space of two haikus, they have junked Canada’s best weapon for transparency and accountability on climate policy.
This morning I appeared before members of the U.S. Congress to speak about the role of technology and government oversight in Canada's oilsands. As policy director at the Pembina Institute, I was invited along with several others to testify at the "American Energy Initiative" hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, part of the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee.
Over the past several years, Canada’s diplomats abroad have been engaged in an extensive and coordinated defense of the oilsands. They have been armed with speaking points developed with the oil lobby’s help, and even given license to threaten a “trade war.” Nowhere has this campaign been more intense than in Europe, where the European Union (EU) is poised to implement climate change policy that clearly labels oilsands imports as a more polluting source of oil than conventional crude.
These are just a few of the headlines from recent media coverage of the analysis published in Nature Climate Change, “The Alberta oil sands and climate.” Judging by the reaction captured in the news coverage, you’d think the oilsands were suddenly less polluting than they were last month, and that all the serious concerns associated with ramping up oilsands expansion were groundless.
As the pipeline debate on this side of the border shifts to the fate of the Northern Gateway proposal, the U.S. government’s rejection of the Keystone project shows that Canada faces real barriers in getting oilsands to market — and, despite what some pundits say, those barriers are not just political.
An open letter from the Pembina Institute to Canadians
As you may have noticed, the Harper government and the “Ethical Oil Inc” front group have been working to discredit groups like the Pembina Institute and our work on energy issues by claiming that we are a “foreign-funded,” “radical” organization advocating against the best interests of Canadians.
Allow us to set the record straight.
Apparently Canada is open for business but closed to criticism, no matter how constructive. This is the clearest conclusion that can be drawn from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s open letter to Canadians, in which he attacks advocates of responsible oil-sands development as “radicals” and dismisses the concerns of thousands of Canadians who want to have a say in the decision of whether to build Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
Yesterday afternoon, my colleagues and I were trying to make sense of the outcomes from the Durban, South Africa, climate change conference. Was it an exercise in deceit or did it offer some glimmer of hope? Before we could fully answer those questions, news broke that Canada was formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. Just hours off the plane from Durban, Environment Minister Kent made the announcement that Canada would no longer be a party to the world’s only climate change treaty.
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.
With the U.S. Department of State's decision on the Keystone XL pipeline delayed until 2013, much of the attention in Canada has been shifting west towards Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline to the B.C. coast. After the Keystone XL announcement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quick to threaten to ship oilsands crude to Asia — a point the Prime Minister will likely repeat when he meets with President Obama tomorrow.
The second and final week of the UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa is now underway. In our view, a wealthy country such as Canada that is serious about reaching an agreement, would be doing three things. Let's take a look at where Canada stands on these points.
Today’s protest in Ottawa and the sit-in at the White House this past month send a strong signal to Canadian and U.S. decision makers that the environmental risks and impacts from expanding oilsands development and associated pipelines are not being adequately addressed.
Thinking outside the pipeline: Why American decision-makers must consider the true costs of Keystone XL
The clock is ticking for the U.S. State Department to evaluate the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.
The Harper government will have to start trying 10 times harder to cut Canada's greenhouse gas emissions if it wants to meet the target it's committed to in international climate negotiations. This is revealed by two new reports that Environment Canada recently posted on its website.
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.
Here at the Pembina Institute we look to the publication of the federal government's Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act plan as a sign that summer is almost here. Unfortunately, as Clare Demerse explains, this year it makes for some demoralizing reading.
If you think 567 pages of emissions data would make a boring read, this week's news just proved you wrong. Canada's most recent report to the UN's climate change convention has proven surprisingly controversial, not so much for what's in it as for what was left out.
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.
In a recent post we examined the remarkable growth of renewable energy in China — and the rising importance of climate change, energy security and low-carbon development in government decision-making. Here we will offer a quick look ahead at what lays in store for the next five years.
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."
Given that oilsands products aren't currently shipped to Europe in significant quantities, you may be puzzled by all the hoo-ha about the Europeans' clean fuel law. Let us explain.
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.
Which country possesses the world's largest oil reserves, occupies last place in the international Climate Change Performance Index, and complains most loudly about the Kyoto Protocol? Many followers of international affairs may have no difficulty naming Saudi Arabia.
In this op-ed, Matthew Bramley, director of Pembina's climate change program, explains why Canada's stance on climate change bears surprising resemblances to that of the OPEC giant.
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