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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.
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.
Oct. 20, 2014 Integrated bio-refinery produces ethanol, heat, power and fertilizer from 500 tonnes of cow poop per day
Learn how a grain farm in rural Alberta diversified its operations and ended up with a feedlot, a biogas plant and an ethanol plant — with one business upcycling the waste from another.
Oct. 14, 2014 Is Alberta Canada's next big solar market? Green Energy Futures talks to industry reps and Alberta's energy minister at the CanSIA Solar West conference
On a bright fall day in early October in a packed ballroom in a downtown Calgary hotel, Frank Oberle made his first speech as energy minister to Alberta’s small solar industry.
Oct. 10, 2014 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.
Sept. 15, 2014 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.
Aug. 21, 2014 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.
Aug. 9, 2014 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.
Aug. 9, 2014 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
July 7, 2014 Future-proofing the oil and gas sector
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?
I had the privilege to spend some time a few weeks ago at the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association’s annual conference, where one participant described geothermal as Canada’s ‘have not’ renewable energy industry. The 'have not' label is appropriate, since there are no existing commercial geothermal electricity projects in Canada, and limited to no geothermal-specific government support. Where Canadian geothermal companies have been successful is, surprisingly, everywhere but Canada.
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.
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.
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?
No other province in Canada has a longer history with wind energy than Alberta, which has 20 years of experience with utility-scale wind farms. Yet, unlike some parts of the country, we don’t tend to hear much about it. So we set out to discover what sorts of complaints officials in Alberta have received about wind energy projects from nearby residents.
July 24, 2013 Setting a clean electricity standard in Alberta
Alberta could implement a clean electricity standard that would create market-based incentives to encourage energy technologies with lower emissions than the current coal-powered system. A recent forum brought thought leaders together to discuss this opportunity.
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.
April 26, 2013 Who has seen the spin? How wind power opponents are mischaracterizing the decision in the Fairview Wind Farm case
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice released a decision dismissing claims that opponents of wind power brought against the Fairview Wind Farm in Clearview Township. Unfortunately, the spin from the lawyer for the wind opponents and the misunderstanding of a vocal anti-wind group have misconstrued the judge’s reasons to their benefit. Here are the facts.
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.
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.
At first glance, pairing renewable energy with the oil and gas sector would seem an unlikely match. But behind the curtain, romance could be blooming. As Canadians come to recognize that meaningful and cost-effective climate action may be the key to unlocking market access for oilsands, the appetite for an even-tighter union between these star-crossed industries could be just around the corner.
Feb. 22, 2013 Who’s really winning the race to end coal? A comparison of Canada and U.S. federal regulations
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.
Feb. 19, 2013 Top clean energy opportunities for Canada in 2013
I asked four of Pembina’s directors what clean energy opportunities 2013 might have in store. Here’s what they had to say.
“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.
We know that British Columbia’s electricity is primarily fossil fuel-free and electric vehicles are now available in Canada (with several provinces offering rebates), but if we were in an electric car and had to “fill up the tank” what would we do?
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.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced its finalized regulations to limit climate-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. As we had anticipated months ago, the final regulations don’t go nearly far enough to help Canada keep its climate change and clean energy commitments or safeguard ourselves, and our children, from coal pollution.
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.
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.
Heidi Eijgel raises horses on a ranch 700 m from Summerview Wind Farm, a 70.2 MW wind power project in southern Alberta. Heidi and her husband do not have an ownership stake in the wind farm, but for 10 years they have been some of the wind farm’s closest neighbours, as well as some of its biggest advocates.
May 16, 2012 It’s time to speak out for nature and democracy
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.
Recently, Calgary City Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting its first citywide greenhouse gas plan. The plan aims to reduce the city’s emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050, below 2005 levels and I’m thrilled to say that the Pembina Institute’s community services consulting group helped to write it.
The premiers of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan have pledged to meet with the federal government to discuss a national energy strategy and the related issue of regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Before that meeting happens, let’s examine their efforts to price carbon, a critical component of any cost-effective approach to dealing with climate change.
Jan. 16, 2012 The truth about our funding
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.
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.
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