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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.
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.
President Obama’s new Clean Power Plan puts the United States on a path that could see the country reach its 2020 international climate commitments — unlike Canada, due to oilsands emissions.
Some commentators seek to defend the oilsands by pointing out that coal is the “U.S.’s much dirtier enemy”. But, before we throw stones, let’s not forget that Alberta also has a big coal problem — proportionally bigger than the U.S.
“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.
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.
Around the world, governments are seeking innovative ways to balance long-term prosperity with evidence-based environmental management. When Alberta released its final wetlands policy for the oilsands region last September, it qualified its approach by saying its goal was to “minimize the loss and degradation of wetlands, while allowing for continued growth and economic development in the province.”
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.
While the government has talked extensively about the liquefaction terminals proposed for the coast, it’s had much less to say about an expanded network of gas wells, pipelines, processing facilities and other equipment that will be needed to feed them. And the climate impact could be massive, depending in large part on the technologies used along the supply chain. Here are a few options the province has for minimizing carbon pollution from LNG.
The connection between LNG development and carbon pollution is significant. And just how the government chooses to manage both issues will have serious long-term implications for the province, and the country.
It’s an unproductive indicator of how polarized the national conversation around energy and the environment has become when a pragmatic, research-focused group like Pembina can be painted as “anti-oil” or “working for the Americans.”
Even when rules exist for managing the environmental impacts of oilsands development, there is no guarantee they will be enforced.
In its rush to build new projects and ramp up production, the oilsands industry is driving an unfamiliar road with its foot jammed on the gas pedal — regardless of what turns or hazards may lie ahead.
Earning social licence the traditional way Why public engagement in the oilsands regulatory process matters
Jennifer Grant, oilsands director, weighs in on the Government of Alberta’s decision to bar Pembina from participating in the regulatory process for a proposed in situ oilsands project.
No one can deny that oilsands development has brought significant economic benefit. But increased dependence on a volatile natural resource sector carries some risks to Canada as well.
This month, Ontario prudently decided that new nuclear reactors will not be part of the province’s forthcoming long-term energy plan. As Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli explained, “It is not wise to spend billions and billions of dollars on new nuclear when that power is not needed.”
That said, the government still appears to be committed to refurbishing the 10 existing reactors at the Bruce and Darlington nuclear stations. Is that a wise investment?
As Stephen Harper’s natural resources minister, Joe Oliver already spends a lot of time going to bat for Canada’s oil and gas industry.
But at a meeting of Canadian energy ministers in Yellowknife last month, Minister Oliver took his support to another level. There, he made an eloquent pitch that developing our resources is a new kind of nation-building and an opportunity we are obliged to seize.
We have reached a “pivotal moment” in our history, he said, one where “the easy assumptions of the past are giving way to new realities.” I think he’s entirely right about that — but not at all in the way he meant it.
One short decade ago, the oilsands were scarcely known of outside of Alberta. That seems impossible to imagine today.
If you’re looking for a case study about the environmental management of oilsands development, take a look at how water from the Athabasca River is used in oilsands extraction.
This case study tells the story of how our governments are failing to balance the needs of the river with the demands of a thirsty industry, though no single company or project is to blame.
It’s hard to believe five years have passed since 1600 hundred ducks died after landing on a Syncrude tailings pond. The incident made headlines around the world, and kicked off an era of heightened international scrutiny and concerns related to the environmental impacts of oilsands development. And for good reason — the tailings waste produced from oilsands mining contains a host of toxins and seeps as much as 11 million litres per day of wastewater into the surrounding environment. Tailings reclamation is a financially risky and uncertain prospect.
Amid debates on energy development, Nova Scotia has quietly emerged as a Canadian leader when it comes to reducing energy waste. As discussions about a national energy strategy continue across Canada, more eyes will turn to Nova Scotia for ways to reduce pollution, cut energy costs and drive economic development.
This summer’s deluge of extreme weather seems to have pushed Canadians over an important threshold: climate change is becoming widely accepted as part of the explanation for what we’re seeing outside.
It pays to be a good neighbour, especially when your neighbour is also your number one customer. Albertans who want to maintain a robust oilsands sector in the province would be wise to heed that advice.
Clare Demerse, federal policy director at the Pembina Institute, unpacks the implications of U.S. President Barack Obama's latest speech for Canada and the Keystone XL pipeline.
We all know that climate change is impacting the arctic, but what about the people who live there? For the remote communities in Northern Canada and Alaska that rely on a steady supply of fuel and supplies, sustainability is a matter of survival. One area where the impacts of climate change are being felt the most is energy.
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 resurgence of vocal opposition in the United States to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline this spring has left many on this side of the border wondering what all the fuss is about.
And it is surprising, considering the approval of pipeline infrastructure that would have been considered routine a decade ago has become a flashpoint for public action in support of stronger climate action.
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.
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