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The success of Alberta's new tailings framework will depend on the next steps taken to ensure compliance.
Canada’s boreal forest is one of the largest remaining intact forest ecosystems in the world. The area where oilsands development takes place is home to nearly 90 species at risk, which are expected to decline as critical habitat is increasingly disturbed. The oilsands sector has an opportunity to reverse this trend.
When world leaders gathered in Lima, Peru, for global climate change talks this month, British Columbia’s environment minister, Mary Polak, was among them. Minister Polak included the province’s liquefied natural gas export aspirations as part of B.C.’s climate success story, arguing that LNG will displace coal in Asia. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t support this claim.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper cited Alberta's version of carbon pricing as a model that could be applied at a national scale. Our analysis has found that an Alberta-style model could work at the national level — but it wouldn’t be ideal.
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.
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.
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.
As natural gas flaring increases in Alberta, it is encouraging that the Alberta Energy Regulator seems to be taking action. Using natural gas in vehicles is a partial solution in the offing that could yield dividends all around.
The B.C. government has consistently overstated the potential benefits of LNG. Such polarizing rhetoric is unproductive at best.
Building and running a comprehensive monitoring program for the oilsands that keeps pace with the rapid growth of the industry is very challenging — especially considering how huge the industry is already. Oilsands development currently produces 61 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution, consumes 185 billion litres of freshwater annually and has directly transformed more land area than the entire city of Calgary.
There should be no confusion about where Canada stands with respect to its efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and meet its international climate targets.
The Government of Alberta reported this month that air quality in areas near oilsands development in Northern Alberta was recorded as exceeding warning levels in 2012. While investments in air quality monitoring are beginning to pay off, this data will place a new Premier in a difficult position.
How to design stakeholder engagement to build trust Lessons from case studies on carbon capture and storage
We recently explored lessons learned from consultation processes for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. What we learned can be applied to any kind of energy development and is especially useful for developers of sources of oil and gas that use new or unknown technologies and approaches.
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.
This week, the Alberta Auditor General released the scathing results of his review of the province’s climate change strategy. Despite recommendations from two previous audits, the report found the government still lacks a definitive plan to meet its climate targets and to report progress.
In 2009, Canada committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies along with the other member states of the G20. But five years later, Canadian taxpayers continue to subsidize a sector that is both profitable and well established. As our latest report explains, the financial support Canada gives the oil sector is unnecessary given the favourable economic reality that sector currently faces.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) has come as close as it likely ever will to admitting that the design of the Primrose Cyclic Steam Stimulation project has failed, and that this failure led to the four bitumen and steam emulsion blowouts that were discovered several kilometres apart just over one year ago.
Energy companies are doubling down on oil, even as the likelihood of government action on climate change has never been higher. If local leaders like Cenovus are getting out of the renewables game, what does that mean for the oil and gas sector’s ability to proactively adapt to a carbon-constrained world?
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.
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.
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.
“A promise made. A promise kept.” That’s been a main message from the B.C. Liberals celebrating the one-year anniversary of their 2013 election victory. But when it comes to their promise to produce the “cleanest liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world,” a better phrase might be “A promise made. A promise redefined.”
British Columbians want an energy shift Strong majority want B.C. to transition away from using and exporting fossil fuels
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.
Every year, industrialized countries publish their national inventories of carbon pollution. Canada’s vast and detailed report, meticulously assembled by Environment Canada, gives us a thorough picture of where our greenhouse gas emissions come from, and how they have changed since 1990. We check in on three key stories in the 2014 inventory report.
Oilsands emission performance doesn’t have to stay stuck in neutral. The roadmap to lower emissions intensity in oilsands is becoming apparent. But for that to become a reality, we need a policy framework that makes sure the cleanest technologies are also the smartest investment.
Proponents of oilsands expansion often repeat that missions per barrel have been reduced by 26 per cent between 1990 and 2011. The message implies that things are getting better all the time. Given the scale of oilsands expansion planned for the coming decades, it’s worth venturing past the talking point to better understand these emissions intensity improvements and whether or not they will continue.
This week, the federal government passes regulatory power over lands and resources in the Northwest Territories (NWT) to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). Yet, despite the fanfare, the promise of Northern control over lands and resources is ringing increasingly hollow.
Last month, scientists from Environment Canada released a study citing research that estimated the rate at which tailings water is likely seeping from one lake (and into groundwater systems hydraulically connected to the Athabasca River). The research cited determined that rate to be 6.5 million litres per day. We discuss the study research in the context of oilsands expansion and how governments should respond to this information.
Over the last few months, debates about pipelines have become a staple of the news in Canada. In 2014, we can expect to hear a lot more about Energy East, a major west-to-east pipeline that would carry over one million barrels of crude per day. We need a venue for a meaningful discussion about the impacts — both positive and negative — of growing oilsands production.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next week, an important piece of legislation will continue through its third reading in the Alberta legislature. Bill 31, the protecting Alberta’s environment act, would establish the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) to obtain relevant scientific data and information regarding the condition of the environment in Alberta.
While the bill is essential to establish an independent monitoring agency — a goal we support — the proposed legislation has some basic flaws. Even more concerning, the government has been surprisingly closed-minded in responding to amendments proposed in the legislature that would enhance the bill.
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.
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.
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