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Wed, 2015-02-04 12:17Carol Linnitt
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Low Oil Prices, High Oilsands Emissions Should Influence Keystone XL Decision: EPA

tar sands, oilsands, kris krug

A letter submitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the State Department gives new weight to concerns the proposed $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline, destined to carry crude from the Alberta oilsands to export facilities along the Gulf of Mexico, will have significant climate impacts.

The EPA letter suggests existing analyses – which downplay the importance of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project – are out of date and require revision in light of low global oil prices.

Due to the plummeting of oil prices and related market changes “it is important to revisit [the] conclusions” of previous reports, EPA told the State Department.

Given recent large declines in oil prices and the uncertainty of oil price projections, the additional low prices scenario in the (State report) should be given additional weight during decision making, due to the potential implications of lower oil prices on project impacts, especially greenhouse gas emissions.”

The State Department is due to release a revised analysis of the Keystone XL project and is currently gathering comments from the EPA and other agencies.

Tue, 2015-02-03 11:21Guest
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Why (and How) the PICS Divestment Report Misses the Point

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This is a guest post by Cam Fenton, Canadian tar sands organizer with 350.org.

Last week the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions released a report criticizing the fossil fuel divestment movement. While the report came as a surprise, the arguments didn’t, especially given that they were based more on building a straw man to support the report’s conclusions than actually understanding the movement.

At best the report fails to accurately reflect the demands and the theory of change of fossil fuel divestment movement, and at worst it fails to understand the true role and power of organizing, action and social movements.

The report gets a lot wrong and a little bit right, but most of its problems are undercut by three assumptions at the core of its argument – assumptions which seem to have been cherry-picked by the authors to support their own conclusions rather than reflecting those articulated by the movement. In fact the divestment movement has only ever been founded on one assumption that “if it’s morally wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”

Fri, 2015-01-09 11:43Guest
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Will B.C.’s LNG Strategy Really Help Global Climate Change?

LNG climate policy

By Josha MacNab, regional director for British Columbia at the Pembina Institute.

When world leaders gathered in Lima, Peru, for global climate change talks, British Columbia’s environment minister, Mary Polak, was among them. She shared the province’s successful experience in implementing commendable climate policies, like B.C.’s carbon tax — a policy that the president of the World Bank hailed as a “powerful example” of carbon pricing.

However, Minister Polak also included the province’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export aspirations as part of B.C.’s climate success story, arguing that LNG will displace coal in Asia. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t support this claim.

Wed, 2015-01-07 21:02Carol Linnitt
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Development of Oilsands Incompatible with 2C Global Warming Limit: New Study

Alberta oilsands, tar sands, Fort McMurray, climate, Kris Krug

A new study published today in the journal Nature finds the vast majority – 99 per cent – of Canada’s oilsands are “unburnable” if the world is to avoid a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

The study, co-authored by Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins, also found over 80 per cent of the world’s current coal reserves and half of all gas reserves similarly need to remain unused. 

Given changing market conditions that are already making the production of expensive and carbon-intensive fossil fuel reserves – like oilsands crude – more difficult, the authors concluded that a concerted effort to limit global warming would result in a massive drop in Canadian oil production.

The extraction of bitumen would “drop to negligible levels after 2020 in all scenarios because it is considerably less economic than other methods of production,” the report states.

Fri, 2014-12-19 13:33Nick Fillmore
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UN Climate Talks Face Long, Hard Road to Paris Next Winter

christiana figureres COP20

With yet another United Nations high level conference making little real progress on slowing climate change, a near miracle will be required if countries are to reach a meaningful and binding global agreement on carbon emissions in Paris next December.

The ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ document, agreed to on Sunday by 194 countries, is not a new “deal” for the climate, as conference observer Green Party Leader Elizabeth May pointed out. It is a 12-month work plan leading to the final meeting in Paris.

The conference shifted more responsibility for coping with climate change to the developing world. For the first time, an agreement calls on countries with rising economies, such as China, India and South Africa, to pledge action on climate change along with rich countries.

Developing countries have been expecting the North to provide billions-of-dollars to carry the burden of cutting carbon emissions in the South that are cause by northern industrialization. But a special fund set up for this purpose received barely a mention during key sessions.

Sat, 2014-12-13 09:02Carol Linnitt
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10 Things Canada Would Be Doing if We Were Serious About Climate Change

obama harper

Right now Canada is participating in the final day of the 20th annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru. The country already caught flack for thinking a progressive stance on hydrofluorocarbons will convince the international community Canada is doing its due diligence when it comes to the world’s problem of growing greenhouse gas emissions. To make matters worse, this week Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in the House of Commons that it would be “crazy” to regulate emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector, signaling the long-overdue rules are no longer on the table.

Meanwhile in Peru, Canadian delegates are working hard to keep Canada’s oil and gas sector off the climate-negotiating table, despite the genuine efforts from nations across the planet to come to a meaningful agreement for addressing the globe’s growing carbon emissions problem. As a result, Canadian NGOs are saying the country is losing its international credibility. As the disappointing climate talks close today in Lima many countries are saying wealthy nations like Canada are creating an atmosphere of distrust and vulnerability by delaying meaningful, collaborative climate action.

So looking ahead to COP21 in Paris, Canada will have to do more than delay and obscure its climate problems with miniscule good deeds if it wants to show the world we deserve a big kid chair at the negotiations table.

Here are 10 things Canada would be doing if we were actually serious about addressing climate change at COP20 in Lima and beyond.

Wed, 2014-12-10 21:01Heather Libby
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The Reality of Stephen Harper vs. The Reality of Carbon Taxes

stephen harper, carbon tax

Last night Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his house band, the Van Cats, took to the stage at a Conservative Christmas Party in Ottawa. Seated at the keyboard, the Prime Minister warbled through a performance of the Guns n’Roses classic ‘Sweet Child of Mine.’

Less than 24 hour earlier that the Prime Minister was singing a different tune.

Earlier in the day, the Harper railed against the concept of carbon taxes and regulation of the fossil fuel industry during Question Period in the House of Commons. In response to questions from NDP environment critic Megan Leslie about the Conservative’s 2007 pledge to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, he replied:

Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy — it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector; we're clearly not going to do that. …In fact, Mr. Speaker, nobody in the world is regulating their oil and gas sector. I would be delighted if they did. Canada would be there with them.”

All of the above are indeed words, but when used by the Prime Minister in this combination they give a result that’s completely and egregiously incorrect.

Wed, 2014-12-10 16:17Carol Linnitt
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Canada ‘Flies Under Radar,’ Skirts Oilsands Issue At COP20 Climate Talks

Leona Aglukkaw COP20 Lima Peru

Canada is “flying under the radar” at this year’s UNFCCC COP20 climate talks in Lima, Peru according to Canada Youth Delegation member Brenna Owen.

Canada’s negotiators are working hard to sidestep the issue of the country’s growing greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector according to Owen, while simultaneously keeping quiet about the oilsands as nations come up with their “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) in the global climate agreement.

They’re not going to be able to do that much longer,” she added. “And they’re not going to be able to avoid talking about the tar sands.”

Aleah Loney, another member of the 10-person youth delegation, said the group is eager to push Canada’s ministers and negotiators to address the issue of oil and gas emissions rather than employing evasive tactics to avoid the concerns outright.

Tue, 2014-12-09 06:46Carol Linnitt
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Shell’s Top Climate Advisor Says Company “Values” Relationship with Climate-Denying ALEC at COP20

David Hone, Shell’s top climate advisor told an audience at the COP20 climate negotiations underway in Lima, Peru today that the company enjoys its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a contentious corporate ‘bill mill’ known for its climate change denial and aggressive efforts to counteract emissions reductions and regulations.

More than 90 companies have parted ways with ALEC since 2012, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, after ALEC’s contentious position on climate science drew the ire of shareholders, citizen groups and unions.

Perhaps most famously, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt accused ALEC of “literally lying” about climate science and publicly announced the company’s decision to forego renewing its ALEC membership. The decision prompted a ‘tech exodus’ from ALEC which saw companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo!, and AOL cut ties with the free market group.

Sun, 2014-12-07 09:43Chris Rose
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Financing Climate Action Among Major Concerns in First Week of COP20 Climate Negotiations

COP20 UNFCCC DeSmog Canada

How to finance a global shift away from toxic greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels was one of the key talking points during the first week of the annual United Nations climate change conference held this year in Lima, Peru.

The conference, which began Monday and is scheduled to end next Friday, started with a statement by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who said negotiators must draft a new, universal climate change agreement that will hopefully be endorsed next year at COP21 in Paris.

Figueres also said negotiators “must enhance the delivery of finance, in particular to the most vulnerable” as well as stimulating “ever-increasing action on the part of all stakeholders to scale up the scope and accelerate the solutions that move us all forward, faster.”

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