Unlikely Conservatives Join Fight for Ontario’s Carbon Tax

A small, conservative movement is growing in Ontario to “reset the conversation” around carbon pricing and bring the centre-right back to an originally-conservative position, one in support of a market-based approach to fighting climate change. But the movement faces an uphill battle.

It’s very ironic — the idea of carbon pricing, came more from the right than the left originally,” Mark Cameron, executive director for Canadians for Clean Prosperity, and former policy director to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told DeSmog Canada.

There are well known conservative economists who endorsed carbon taxes for decades.”

You don’t need to feel alone, there are a number of people coming into this tent,” said Chris Ragan, chair of the Ecofiscal Commission, associate professor at McGill University and research fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute.

Those hoping for a reset will soon see how the Ontario Progressive Conservative party engages on the topic when the governing Liberals introduce a cap-and-trade plan in the near future.

Half of Albertans Think Oilsands are Large Enough, Majority Want Stronger Climate Policies, According to New Poll

A poll of more than 1,800 Albertans conducted by EKOS Research Associates shows more than half the population wants the province to take stronger climate action by introducing policies that limit carbon emissions.

The poll, commissioned by the Pembina Institute, also found 50 per cent of Albertans are in support of a broad price on carbon that would apply to both consumers and producers. Support for a price on carbon jumped by another 10 to 20 per cent if the money generated from the tax were to go towards carbon reducing technologies or projects.

Results also show a large portion of Albertans (66 per cent) want to diversify the province’s economy rather than up the competitiveness of the oil and gas industry (29 per cent). Forty-eight per cent of Albertans who took the poll said they feel the oilsands are large enough or should be downsized.

It’s encouraging to see such strong support among Albertans for action on climate change,” Simon Dyer, Alberta regional director for the Pembina Institute, said.

This poll shows that the public is open to many of the solutions being considered, such as an economy-wide price on carbon pollution, or phasing out coal power and replacing it with renewables.”

David Schindler: Canada Spending its Way into Dangerous Water Debt

It’s no surprise, after California’s five-year drought that is now creeping northwards, experts have water on the mind.

The drought-plagued forests that burned across the continent this summer offered a glimpse of our future world, according to retired scientists David Schindler, who told an audience last week that the ash-laden air and sepia skies of summer 2015 are to become the new normal in a hotter and drier world.

Schindler, a Rhodes Scholar and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences, spoke at The Walrus Talks in Victoria, an event that brought together authors and experts all with stories to tell about our most overlooked resource: water.

When I agreed to give a Walrus Talk last spring on the topic of climate warming and fresh water I couldn’t have known that the summer of 2015 was going to be a poster child that would display most of these symptoms that I’ve been studying for 25 years or more,” he said.

In this part of B.C. you enjoyed the summer of water rationing and red suns set in a grey sky with air quality that you normally wouldn’t see outside of Beijing. You’re getting a good idea of quality of life that we’re facing ahead if we continue to operate as business as usual.”

Celebrities and the Oilsands: Help or Hindrance?

By now, it’s an almost entirely predictable routine: a celebrity takes a tour of the Alberta oilsands for a day or two and quickly harnesses apocalyptic rhetoric in press conferences to detail the experience. Chagrined industry spokespeople lash out. News coverage dissipates after a few days. Rinse and repeat. Thus far, Neve Campbell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Darren Aronofsky, Desmond Tutu and James Cameron have partaken in the ritual.

Now, at long last, we can add Bill Nye to the already stacked roster, thanks to his recent two-day stint in the area for a climate change documentary he’s working on.

Producing all this oil that’s producing all this carbon dioxide, that’s not good from a global stand point,” the Science Guy said in an interview with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, which was tweeted by the likes of Bill McKibben and 350.org.

Nye’s statement is very true. Alberta’s oilsands represent fossil fuel development on an unprecedented and highly visible scale. Canada won’t meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets as a result of the growing sector (by that year, the oilsands are expected to churn more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually than all the passenger transport in the country).

But do celebrity visits help push the dialogue out of gridlock?

Prime Minister Harper’s Inaction on Climate Killed the Keystone XL Oilsands Pipeline

Stephen Harper climate change

With U.S. President Barack Obama expected to deny a permit to the Keystone XL pipeline this fall, Canada’s oil industry is looking for someone to blame.

The National Post’s Claudia Cattaneo wrote last week that “many Canadians … would see Obama’s fatal stab as a betrayal by a close friend and ally” and that others “would see it as the product of failure by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to come up with a climate change plan.”

The latter is the more logical conclusion. Obama has made his decision-making criteria clear: he won’t approve the pipeline if it exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution.

Even the U.S. State Department’s very conservative analysis states the Keystone XL pipeline would “substantially increase oilsands expansion and related emissions.” The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed.

While Canada’s energy reviews take into account “upstream benefits” — such as jobs created in the oilsands sector as a result of pipelines — they don’t even consider the upstream environmental impacts created by the expansion of the oilsands.

For all the bluster and finger-pointing, there’s no covering up the fact that Canada’s record on climate change is one of broken promises.

Elizabeth May’s Call for an 'Energy Efficiency Army' Makes All the Sense for a Stagnating Alberta

Frankly, we need an army of carpenters, electricians and contractors going out to plug leaky buildings,” federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May said during the August 6 leaders debate. “Thirty per cent of carbon pollution comes from the energy we waste and the money we waste heating the outdoors in the winter and cooling it in the summer.”

The suggestion’s an awfully good one. Especially in Alberta.

For one, the thousands of contractors out of work due to the oil price slump could serve as potential soldiers in this so-called army.

There’s also enormous untapped energy-saving potential in Alberta: in fact, it’s the only province or state in North America that doesn’t sport a long-term energy efficiency program — that sure means something when 55 per cent of Calgary’s emissions can be attributed to electricity generation.

David Suzuki: Premiers' Energy Strategy Falls Short

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

On July 15, a state-of-the-art new pipeline near Fort McMurray, Alberta, ruptured, spilling five million litres of bitumen, sand and waste water over 16,000 square metres — one of the largest pipeline oil spills in Canadian history. Two days later, a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in Montana, spilling 160,000 litres and forcing evacuation of nearby homes.

At the same time, while forest fires raged across large swathes of Western Canada — thanks to hotter, dryer conditions and longer fire seasons driven in part by climate change — Canadian premiers met in St. John’s, Newfoundland, to release their national energy strategy.

The premiers’ Canadian Energy Strategy focuses on energy conservation and efficiency, clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. But details are vague and there’s no sense of urgency. We need a response like the U.S. reaction to Pearl Harbor or the Soviet Sputnik launch!

Facing the Simple but Hard Truths of the Alberta Oilsands

This is a guest post by Tzeporah Berman, Adjunct Professor York University Faculty of Environmental Studies and longtime environmental advocate. A shorter version of this piece originally appeared on the Toronto Star.

The debate over energy, oilsands and pipelines in Canada is at best dysfunctional and at worst a twisted game that is making public relations professionals and consultants on all sides enormous amounts of money.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information routinely show our own government hiding scientific reports or meeting secretly to craft PR strategies with the companies they are supposed to regulate, while millions of dollars are spent on ads trying to convince Canadians that the oilsands are like peanut butter and that without them our hospitals will close. *(See change notice at end of article.)

On the other side we march, we rally and we point fingers creating a narrative of exclusion and moral high-ground while acting as though a low carbon transition is going to be a walk in the park.


Premiers Finalize National Energy Strategy That Relies Heavily on Fossil Fuels, Pipelines

Canada’s provincial leaders finalized the Canadian Energy Strategy Friday with a document many onlookers are criticizing as too reliant on traditional carbon-based sources of energy.

The strategy, intended to guide the integrated development of Canada’s energy resources across the provinces, places no restrictions on the release of greenhouse gas emissions and takes a proactive approach to building oil and gas pipelines.

According to officials who spoke with the Globe and Mail the strategy was meant to strike a balance between the energy ambitions of each province with growing concerns over global climate change.

We have a path to pursue two critical national priorities,” a senior Alberta official said, ”how are we going to keep building our energy industry and how are we going to address climate change?”

Exclusive: B.C. to Pay Millions to Subsidize Petronas Pollution Due to Secretive LNG Emissions Loophole

The B.C. government plans to subsidize Malaysian gas giant Petronas to the tune of $16 million, in part due to a promise to exclude a significant chunk of the greenhouse gas emissions from the Pacific Northwest LNG project from compliance penalties, DeSmog Canada has learned.

British Columbia’s politicians are in a special summer sitting at the legislature right now to debate Bill 30, the Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act, which will allow the government to enter into a $36 billion agreement with Petronas and pave the way for B.C.’s first major liquefied natural gas export plant, located near Prince Rupert.

Under the terms of the 140-page deal, the province would compensate the LNG consortium if future governments raise income tax rates for LNG operations, add carbon taxes that specifically target the industry or make changes to rules on greenhouse gas emissions. That could result in the province paying out $25 million a year or more.

While the compensation clause has commanded the lion’s share of attention, DeSmog Canada has learned that the B.C. government has quietly excluded two sources of Petronas’ emissions from compliance standards, which will result in the province paying out millions of dollars in subsidies.


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