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July 4, 2014 B.C. Climate Action Plan 2.0?
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.
Feb. 20, 2014 Closing the downtown–suburban divide
It’s high time that we stopped thinking of downtown and the suburbs as enemies. In reality, they have more in common than ever before.
Dec. 18, 2013 Fuelling our way out of traffic congestion
Last week, the premier’s advisory panel on transit investment proposed a strategy to raise funds for transit expansion while minimizing the burden on taxpayers. The panel’s strategy includes a gas tax, which became a lightning rod in the subsequent discussion. However, the cost of inaction far exceeds to costs of a gas tax, which would pay for a regional rapid transit network and alleviate congestion.
Dec. 12, 2013 New dollars, new transit
Today, the premier’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel proposed a transit funding strategy that represents a consensus on how to raise new dollars. It passed the tests set by thirteen panel members representing diverse interests — including labour, business, developers and drivers — and is a well-thought-out proposal that deserves serious consideration from the broader public.
The first paper released by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel unpacked some hard truths about transit. Those truths include how the cost of transit encompasses much more than just the cost of building it, and how building transit to an area doesn’t mean that development will come.
If the government is honestly asking taxpayers to contribute to the next wave of Big Move projects, it must be smart and responsible with everyone’s money. The panel needs to ensure that investments in transit provide maximum benefits and deliver tangible results, both in the short and long terms.
Oct. 29, 2013 Pacific Coast Action Plan signals progress on climate
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.
Oct. 29, 2013 Trending Bad: What Environment Canada's latest climate report says about Canada's carbon pollution
Last week, Environment Canada released its annual Emissions Trends report, projecting the path of Canada’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. This blog looks at what the report says and why it matters.
Oct. 21, 2013 Unpacking the truths about transit investment
Today Premier Wynne’s Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel released its first issue paper entitled: The Hard Truths about Transit in the Toronto Region
I am honoured to be a member of the panel, which was established with a mandate to advise the Province whether the Metrolinx’s Investment Strategy recommendations are the right ones. The first four weeks we spent grappling with this central question: Despite consensus on the seriousness of the transportation and congestion problem in Toronto, why can’t we agree on how to solve it?
Sept. 4, 2013 Seven ways to help commuters love the Big Move
For a region that’s trapped in gridlock or crammed into subways and streetcars, new taxes for tomorrow’s transit are a tough sell. However, the province, municipalities and transit authorities can take some immediate steps to sweeten the deal. This blog outlines seven actions that can help build public support around the need to fund transit expansion, while also offering benefits to the tax-paying commuter in the meanwhile.
When I was growing up at Highway 7 and Bayview Avenue in Markham, the bus showed up when it felt like it. An hour could pass while you waited at the stop.
This Sunday, I ventured back to my homeland and did something I never would have considered as a teenager: I chose to ride the bus along Highway 7. But this was no ordinary bus: it was an example of bus rapid transit, an outstanding transit option for low-density neighbourhoods.
May 13, 2013 Ontario’s transit funding debate is getting HOT
The provincial budget saw the introduction of Ontario’s first (and modest) revenue tool to fund transit: high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. With the provincial budget hot off the press, now is a good time to examine how HOT lanes work and what impact they have on congestion, as well as commuters.
Toronto City Council is debating the revenue tools for transit recommended in the city manager’s report, based on opinion polls and public consultations with Torontonians. This blog answers some key questions regarding the report’s top four choices: a sales tax, a fuel tax, a parking levy and development charges.
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.
April 30, 2013 Ontario Budget: Let’s not let auto insurance concessions “collide” with our goals to reduce gridlock
For the Wynne government to pass its first budget, it may have to consider some policies demanded by the NDP, including rolling back auto insurance premiums by 15 per cent. While insurance rates are higher in Ontario than in some other provinces, there are better policy solutions to offer drivers a break without undermining other key government priorities — namely reducing congestion in the GTA.
March 28, 2013 Driving forward with electric vehicles in British Columbia
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.
March 18, 2013 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.
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.
I want a medal for dedication. Saturday I gave up skiing in two feet of glorious sun-drenched snow to crowd inside Metro Hall for a public roundtable hosted by Metrolinx to debate how best to raise public dollars to fund transit expansion — one of a series of consultations currently taking place across the Toronto and Hamilton region.
“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.
Oct. 26, 2012 Reflections on my internship at the Pembina Institute
This summer I had the fortune of working as the Climate Action Stories Intern at the Pembina Institute’s Vancouver office. It's never an easy task to summarize a great experience, but it's certainly worth a try.
Oct. 22, 2012 Snubbing the pump: How Canadian drivers can save money on fuel and reduce their environmental impact
Just minutes into the second U.S. presidential debate, the focus turned to gas prices and the role the government should or could play in keeping the price of fuel low. President Obama promised he would increase all forms of American energy production to “make sure that you’re not paying as much for gas.”
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?
Aug. 24, 2012 Clean Energy Champions: sustainable transportation advocate relies on Pembina Institute expertise
Although Michael Warren is best known for his leadership in the revitalization of two of Canada’s largest and most controversial public enterprises — the Toronto Transit Commission and Canada Post Corporation — today he volunteers much of his time to commenting on public policy for The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and Sun Media newspapers. Writing three or four pieces a month, Michael explores solutions to pressing public concerns related to the environment, urban design, transit, energy, and other social issues.
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 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?
June 25, 2012 Being a Smarter Driver pays off – and now I’m hooked
I have become a fuel economy junkie.
I can no longer drive without obsessing over the fuel economy gauge in the centre of the dashboard. The LCD display provides real-time information on the amount of fuel being used to propel the car that I am driving. My spirits rise and fall with its every movement. When the number falls — 4.7, 4.6, right on, 4.2! — I’m on a high! When the number climbs — 6.7, 7.5, no, 9.2! — I’m crestfallen.
Those of us who drive cars typically have our favourite road tunes. One of my favourites is Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, off the Physical Graffiti album. Any self-respecting, Zeppelin-loving driver knows a particularly sublime feeling: slowly pushing on that gas pedal to the beat of Jimmy Page’s rising, signature chord progression riff in Kashmir, watching that speedometer creep up to 90 klicks an hour, then 100, 110, 120…. “I am a traveller of both time and space, to be where I have been….”
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.
April 27, 2012 Support for road tolls, taxes and user fees depends on smart implementation and fair allocation
Congratulations to Metrolinx, Toronto’s regional transportation agency, for delivering the final kick in the pants to get Toronto moving with light rail transit (LRT). Earlier this week, the Metrolinx board approved its plan for the construction of four LRT lines voted on by Toronto council this year.
While these new LRT lines will provide relief to priority neighbourhoods in the Toronto area, transit enthusiasts in Ontario know that these four lines are part of a larger regional plan — The Big Move — that promises to deliver a rapid transit network for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
This week Toronto City Council meets to decide on whether or not to accept the recommendations from the Expert Advisory Panel regarding transit on Sheppard Avenue East. The panel, which released its report on Friday, concluded that light rail transit (LRT) was the better option for Sheppard Avenue, not just because it is most cost effective, but for a variety of other benefits.
Toronto City Council meets today to make a decision on the fate of the 2009 memorandum of agreement for the city’s former light rail plan. As councillors debate, we addressed some questions that have been circulating about the various transit options on the table for Toronto.
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.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford claims on his Facebook page that the Pembina Institute’s 2011 analysis of Toronto transit options support his case for a Sheppard Subway. Although we are pleased to see that the Mayor appreciates our work, some of his points require clarification.
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.
Nov. 7, 2011 B.C. paves the way for cleaner cars
It's an exciting day for climate-conscious British Columbians as an important step has been taken to reduce the greenhouse gas pollution caused by burning gasoline and diesel in our cars.
Many people talk a good line when it comes to taking action on climate change. But this week Dawson Creek, a city of 12,000 people in northern B.C., has decided to put its money where its mouth is.
Recently we learned that Canada plans to follow the Obama administration's lead in requiring manufacturers and importers to meet new fuel-efficiency standards to lower greenhouse gas emissions for large trucks and buses.
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