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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.
While last week was the one-year anniversary of the Redford Government, it’s also an anniversary of sorts for the Pembina Institute. Two years ago, we released a road map toward responsible oilsands development that identified 19 key areas where improved environmental rules and management practices need to be strengthened.
In a new report released today, the Pembina Institute laid out a set of recommendations for effective regulation on the oil and gas sector’s greenhouse gas pollution.
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.
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.
If anyone is still hoping that approval for Keystone XL will be straightforward following President Obama’s re-election, they’re likely disappointed by developments over the past couple weeks. Echoing remarks from David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Secretary of State John Kerry put climate change front and centre when he said “We need to find the courage to leave a far different legacy.”
With another round of rallies against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline planned for this weekend — and in the face of a clear commitment to tackling climate change in President Obama’s second term — Canada’s environmental record is coming under fresh scrutiny in the U.S.
The government’s answer to its U.S. critics? We’re not so different, you and I.
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.
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 greenhouse gas pollution produced by the wells, pipelines, processing plants and liquefaction facilities needed to fulfill British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) aspirations will make it impossible for the province to meet its climate change commitments. Yet, the province says it still intends to “maintain leadership on climate change and clean energy.”
Having trouble squaring that circle? You wouldn’t be alone.
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.
Whether it is the federal government’s ongoing campaign against carbon taxes or the lack of discussion in other parts of the country, most Canadians hear very little about the fact that the country’s west coast is home to one of the world’s best climate policies.
We know that global warming is fuelling these types of extreme weather events: warmer oceans and air cause stronger winds, heavier rains and bigger storm surges. We also know that Sandy is a precursor of what’s to come, with the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events increasing. The challenge now is to understand the lessons Sandy has to teach.
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.
Amid all the controversy over pipeline projects recently, one critical fact is being overlooked: government regulators have already approved more than 5 million barrels per day of oilsands production, and we could reach that milestone just over two decades from now.
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.
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