Stephen Harper

Fri, 2014-09-19 12:30Mike De Souza
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Harper’s Timeline: Canada on Climate Change from 2006-2014

stephen harper, climate change, desmog canada, un climate summit

This article originally appeared on mikedesouza.com.

On the eve of an international climate change summit of government leaders in New York, Canada is being challenged about its own domestic record in addressing the heat-trapping pollution that contributes to global warming.

Here’s a historical timeline of some of the major climate change policies, statements and related decisions made by Canada since 2006 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was first elected to form a government.

From a pledge to introduce a carbon tax in 2007 to internal debates about climate change science, this timeline covers the promises and the action by the Canadian government in recent years.

Wed, 2014-08-06 10:01Guest
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Canada Needs Some Serious Climate Honesty

climate oilsands, kris krug, mark jaccard, harper government

This is a guest post by Mark Jaccard, professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University. 

In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government asked me and four other economists if we agreed with its study showing huge costs for Canada to meet its Kyoto commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. We all publicly agreed, much to the chagrin of the Liberals, NDP and Greens, who argued that Kyoto was still achievable without crashing the economy. It wasn’t.

As economists, we knew that the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien should have implemented effective policies right after signing Kyoto in 1997. It takes at least a decade to significantly reduce emissions via energy efficiency, switching to renewables, and perhaps capturing carbon dioxide from coal plants and oilsands. Each year of delay jacks up costs.

Mr. Harper’s government knew this too. Years later, when environment minister Peter Kent formally withdrew Canada from Kyoto, he charged the previous Liberal government with “incompetence” for not enacting necessary policies in time to meet their target.

Mon, 2014-07-28 17:22Carol Linnitt
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Canada Among Top 7 Countries Least Likely to Agree with Climate Science. But Why?

stephen harper, climate change, desmog canada, climate denial

Canada ranks among the world’s countries least likely to agree that climate change is a result of human activity, according to recently released Ipsos MORI research. The study, “Global Trends 2014,” posed a number of survey questions to individuals in 20 countries and discovered agreement with climate science is lowest in the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Russia, Poland, Japan and Canada, respectively.

Agreement with climate science was highest in China, of all the countries surveyed, a fact that Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, attributes to high environmental concerns in China as a result of alarming environmental pollution in the country. “In many surveys in China, environment is top concern,” he said. “In contrast, in the west, it’s a long way down the list behind the economy and crime.”

Science and political journalist Chris Mooney, points out the survey results show an interesting correlation between climate denial or skepticism and speaking English.

He writes: “Not only is the United States clearly the worst in its climate denial, but Great Britain and Australia are second and third worst, respectively. Canada, meanwhile is the seventh worst. What do these four nations have in common? They all speak the language of Shakespeare.”

Mooney outlines two possible explanations for the pattern: political ideology and media ownership.

Wed, 2014-06-25 15:10Chris Turner
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How Shoddy Reporting is Stunting Canada's Climate Change Conversation

Stormtrooper vs. Obi-Wan

This week, Natural Resources Canada released a major report on climate change and its potential impacts in Canada. The report is novel-thick, the first significant NRCan missive on climate change since 2008, and it rattles off a list of near-future worries that will be familiar to anyone watching climate news closely — heavier rains, more extreme weather events, rising sea levels and acidifying oceans.

You can be forgiven if this is the first you heard of it, since the report was published without so much as a press release. I can only assume this is because the report represents a straightforward, data-driven, thoughtful analysis of the status of the planet’s climate and the likely impact of a changing climate on Canada’s environment, economy and society. And this kind of serious talk is just not how you talk about climate change in Ottawa these days.

I speak often to a wide range of Canadian audiences – from conventional and renewable energy professionals to academic crowds to municipal officials – about the status of the green economy’s vanguard, much of which is situated in western Europe. And I frequently encounter some variation on the same question: Why has Canada lagged so far behind in building a low-carbon society? There’s no single answer, but when I’m in need of a shorthand, I say that we’ve failed for the most part to develop and maintain a serious public conversation about climate change. We talk about climate change – a ubiquitous, universal problem of epochal scale – as something distant in time and space, self-contained and inconsequential, unworthy of intense and sustained scrutiny. Sometimes, our government doesn’t even tell the public when it has issued a major report on the subject.

Fri, 2014-06-20 10:50Carol Linnitt
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Suzuki: Harper Didn’t Have the “Courage” to Present and Defend Northern Gateway Approval

David Suzuki Northern Gateway Pipeline

David Suzuki isn’t surprised the federal government approved the contentious Northern Gateway pipeline Tuesday, but he is surprised Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t have the “courage” to announce the decision to Canadians.

Suzuki described the approval as “totally expected,” yet expressed dismay at the Prime Minister’s absence.

Harper indicated before the joint review panel even started its sessions he wanted that pipeline through,” Suzuki told DeSmog Canada. “What surprises me is he didn’t even have the courage to present his approval and defend it.”

This is such a craven thing, for the Prime Minister of the country to push through that agenda and then not even defend it, not even having any ministers out there defending it. I find that astounding.”

Northern Gateway is opposed by a majority of British Columbians, including most of the province’s First Nations.

Critics are saying the Harper government is insulating itself from political backlash associated with the pipeline's approval. Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford even claimed it inaccurate to suggest the federal government approved the pipeline.

Tue, 2014-06-17 13:40Emma Gilchrist
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Freaking Out About the Northern Gateway Decision? Take a Deep Breath

Bishop Bay

Today the internet is full of noise about the Enbridge Northern Gateway decision by the feds.

Take this poll!

Five other pipelines to watch!

Fun facts about Northern Gateway!

All the noise, ironically enough, makes me think about the silence of the Great Bear Rainforest — of the sea lion that popped up beside my row boat under the starriest sky I’ve ever seen while I sailed along the proposed oil tanker route three years ago.

I’m reminded of bobbing up and down on the water, thoughts coming in 60-second flashes between the breaths of a humpback whale feeding near our boat.

Now, like then, my mind moves away from all the hype to the only truth there is: clean air, clean water, wild salmon. That’s it.

Tue, 2014-06-10 11:40Mike De Souza
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Stephen Harper: Canada and Australia Not Avoiding Climate Action

prime minister stephen harper tony abbott

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian Prime Mininster Tony Abbott took turns Monday criticizing efforts by governments to make polluters pay for greenhouse gas emissions.

Abbott, who is visiting North America, and Harper, both said their respective governments weren’t trying to avoid dealing with the problem, but suggested they were trying to avoid damaging the economy.

The comments were immediately challenged by one of the Harper government’s former political advisers, David McLaughlin, who headed a panel that warned Canada would pay an economic price by not taking action to address climate change.

McLaughlin wrote on his Twitter account that the message from Harper and Abbott was reinforcing a “meme” that dealing with the environment, comes at the expense of the economy.

Tue, 2014-06-03 07:22Mike De Souza
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300 Scientists Urge Harper to Reject Panel's "Flawed" Findings on Enbridge Northern Gateway

Joint review panel report on Enbridge Northern Gateway

This post originally appeared on MikeDeSouza.com and is republished here with permission.

Some 300 scientists are urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject a report that recommended approval of a major oil pipeline to the west coast of British Columbia, describing it as a “flawed analysis” that downplayed key environmental impacts.

Following lengthy hearings, a review panel last December recommended approving Enbridge's Northern Gateway project – a 1,177 pipeline network that would send 525,000 barrels per day of bitumen, the heavy oil from Alberta’s oilsands, to Kitimat, B.C. The panel recommended 209 conditions be attached to the project approval.

But the scientists, led by Kai Chan, an associate professor and principal investigator at the University of British Columbia’s Connecting Human and Natural Systems Lab, sent Harper a letter on Monday concluding that the review’s final report wasn’t balanced and had five major flaws that made it “indefensible.”

We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this report,” wrote the scientists, who are mainly from Canada and the United States.

Wed, 2014-05-28 08:52Mike De Souza
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Government Weather Forecasters Shouldn't Discuss Climate Change: Environment Canada

Weathergirl Goes Rogue

This post originally appeared on MikeDeSouza.com and is republished here with permission.

Weather forecasters at Environment Canada aren’t supposed to discuss climate change in public, says a Canadian government spokesman.

Environment Canada made the comments in response to e-mailed questions about its communications policy.

The department defended its policy by suggesting that Environment Canada meteorologists — among the most widely quoted group of government experts in media reports and broadcasts — weren’t qualified to answer questions about climate change.

Environment Canada scientists speak to their area of expertise,” said spokesman Mark Johnson in an e-mail. “For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority.”

Tue, 2014-05-27 12:00Emma Gilchrist
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All Eyes on Christy Clark as Northern Gateway Decision Imminent

Christy Clark

With the federal government’s decision on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway oil tanker and pipeline proposal set to come in the next three weeks, the political hot potato is set to be launched back into B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s lap any day now.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, Clark doled out a lot of tough talk when it came to Northern Gateway, going so far as to tell The Globe and Mail that pushing ahead with the pipeline would spur a “national political crisis.”

Whether or not people supported the pipeline, they would band together to fight the federal government if they decided to intrude into British Columbia without our consent,” she told the newspaper in October 2012.

This project can only go ahead if it has the social licence to do so. It can only get the social licence from the citizens of British Columbia.”

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