Friday, November 27, 2015 - 11:54 • Kevin Grandia

Earlier today at a meeting of Commonwealth nations in Malta, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that his government would increase its Green Climate Fund commitment to $2.65 billion.

Here's a quick rundown what that actually means.

The Green Climate Fund was set up as part of the United Nations climate negotiation process, with a goal of raising $100 billion from both the public and private sector by 2020. The wealthiest countries at the negotiating table have been under pressure to contribute more money to the Green Climate Fund. 

The idea behind the Green Climate Fund is to overcome a major sticking point in the UN climate treaty process, which is that developing nations are being asked to invest in renewable energy technology and take measures to reduce the impacts of climate change, but do not have nearly the money needed to do so. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 13:26 • Emma Gilchrist

DeSmog Canada has been named as a finalist for “Best News Coverage” by the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.

The awards recognize the best of the country’s online publishing and are judged by a panel of experts from Canada and the U.S.

The other finalists in the “Best News Coverage” category are The Globe and Mail, CBC News, Macleans Magazine and The Huffington Post Canada.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 11:30 • Judith Lavoie

B.C. and Alaska signed a pact Wednesday designed to give Alaskans more say on Canadian mine approvals in transboundary watersheds through a high-level joint working group.

The agreement follows an unprecedented outcry this summer from Alaskan fishing groups, U.S. politicians, aboriginal and environmental groups, worried about the effect on salmon bearing rivers of a surge of mine development in B.C.’s northwest corner.

Concerns about B.C. oversight and mining rules escalated after the Mount Polley tailings pond collapse in August that sent 24-million cubic metres of mine waste, water and silt rushing into nearby lakes and rivers. A subsequent investigation concluded the spill was largely due to an inadequately designed tailings pond.

The disaster underlined Alaskan fears that a similar incident or leaching of toxic chemicals in mines close to the border could wipe out salmon runs in rivers such as the Stikine, Unuk and Taku. Outrage intensified after the B.C. government gave the go-ahead last fall to the Red Chris mine, owned by Imperial Metals, the company that also owns Mount Polley.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 09:59 • James Wilt

It’s a sentence that feels weird to write: by 2030, Alberta will have shuttered the 18 coal-fired power plants that currently generate around 55 per cent of the province’s electricity, with two-thirds of that power replaced by renewable sources.

The stunning move was announced as part of Alberta’s climate change policy framework that was released on Sunday. According to the government, only 12 of the 18 coal-fired power stations would have been phased out by 2030 under the previous arrangement.

The immediate health benefits of such a move are tremendous.

Kim Perrotta, executive director at Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), says that coal accounts annually for an estimated 107 premature deaths, 80 hospital visits and almost 5,000 asthma-related sick days in Alberta, costing the province around $300 million.

Prior to the government’s announcement, over 40 organizations — including the Alberta Medical Association and Asthma Society of Canada — made a joint call for an accelerated phase-out on health grounds.

We see the air quality benefits that are fairly immediate that would be felt by the people in Alberta,” Perrotta says. “But we also want to reaffirm that as an organization run by physicians, we actually believe climate change is the public health challenge of the century. So we think this is a huge win for public health in terms of the the immediate benefit for Albertans but also for the long-term benefits for public health around the globe.”

Coal is responsible for 17 per cent of Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions and six per cent of emissions nationwide.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 13:38 • Judith Lavoie

A lack of reliable scientific information about what happens when crude oil is spilled into rivers or the ocean and a fragmented system of response plans is hindering Canada’s efforts to prevent and clean up oil spills, says a major report by the Royal Society of Canada.

The lengthy report was written by a panel of seven experts on oil chemistry, behaviour and toxicity.

Case studies, including B.C.’s Pine River pipeline break and the April leak of fuel oil into Vancouver’s English Bay, showed delays in response time were common, with causes ranging from poor communication and coordination among government agencies to lack of preparedness.

But the main problem was an absence of reliable scientific data.

There is a critical need for a coordinated and integrated database of information relevant to the assessment of risk of oil spills in Canada,” says the report.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 09:25 • Emma Gilchrist
Ottawa climate protest
Ottawa climate protest

Nine and a half years. That’s how long Stephen Harper was prime minister of Canada — a long haul for environmentalists, who were all but shut out of Ottawa and often antagonized by the federal government.

Now that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have taken the helm, advocates have high hopes for a course correction on the environment and energy files. But after nearly a decade of working under hostile conditions, environmentalists need to make a course correction of their own if they want to effectively influence public policy, experts say.   

If I was running a large ENGO and my file was climate, it’s a new day,” said Allan Northcott, vice-president of Max Bell Foundation, which runs the Public Policy Training Institute to train non-profit leaders in how to effectively advocate for policy changes.

The opportunity is different, so it’s going to require a different plan, a different strategy.”

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 16:01 • Brendan DeMelle

A new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) shows that the climate denial echo chamber organizations funded by ExxonMobil and Koch family foundations produced misinformation that effectively polluted mainstream media coverage of climate science and polarized the climate policy debate. 

The abstract and full text of the study can be found here: Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change.

The analysis of 20 years' worth of data by Yale University researcher Dr. Justin Farrell shows beyond a doubt that ExxonMobil and the Kochs are the key actors who funded the creation of climate disinformation think tanks and ensured the prolific spread of their doubt products throughout our mainstream media and public discourse.

The contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust,” Dr. Farrell told the Washington Post which was first to cover the news of the study's release. “This counter-movement produced messages aimed, at the very least, at creating ideological polarization through politicized tactics, and at the very most, at overtly refuting current scientific consensus with scientific findings of their own,” Dr. Farrell said.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 10:54 • James Wilt
Alberta Climate Change Announcment
Alberta Climate Change Announcment

The days of infinite growth in Alberta’s oilsands are over with the Alberta government’s blockbuster climate change announcement on Sunday, which attracted broad support from industry and civil society.

This is the day that we start to mobilize capital and resources to create green jobs, green energy, green infrastructure and a strong, environmentally responsible, sustainable and visionary Alberta energy industry with a great future,” Premier Rachel Notley said. “This is the day we stop denying there is an issue, and this is the day we do our part.”

Notley and Environment & Parks Minister Shannon Phillips released a 97-page climate change policy plan, which includes five key pillars.