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Mon, 2014-11-24 11:06Andrew Gage
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Suncor Argues "All of Us" are Complicit in Climate Change, But New Lawsuits Could Prove Otherwise

suncor oilsands payback time andrew gage desmog canada

At West Coast Environmental Law we're gratified that Suncor, one of Canada's largest oilsands companies, has taken the time to read  and publicly disagree with  our recent report, Payback Time.

Payback Time examined the risks to Suncor and other Canadian fossil fuel companies of lawsuits brought by the victims of climate change outside of Canada

Suncor responded with a blog post entitled “What to do when everyone is the problem” that cleverly attempts to downplay Payback Time as just one of several efforts to single out a culprit for climate change. Suncor then argues that we are all to blame, suggesting that singling Suncor out for special blame is simply wishful thinking on the part of equally blame-worthy polluters (i.e. the general public).

Some groups are quick to single out individual countries, based on GHG emissions volumes generated within their borders. Others point the finger at specific industrial sectors which generate significant GHG emissions. Some lay the blame squarely on corporations which produce energy [linking to Payback Time] from fossil fuel sources. 

The hard, undeniable truth is that all of us, as fortunate members of the developed world, are complicit when it comes to GHG emissions…

Wed, 2014-11-05 15:26Chris Rose
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The EU’s New Climate Commitments Make Canada and the U.S. Look Ridiculous

connie hedegaard, climate change, EU

The European Union has reached a new legally-binding climate change agreement that would see greenhouse gas emissions drop by at least 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030.

The agreement, signed off in Brussels two weeks ago by the EU’s 28 member nations, is designed to ensure Europe meets its objective of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent by mid-century.

It also puts Europe in the lead position to help persuade other nations trailing far behind the EU’s emissions-reduction goals to reach a long-sought global climate change accord next year in Paris.

The 2030 climate and energy plan also calls for the share of renewable energy to increase to 27 per cent of 1990 levels while seeing a 27 per cent increase in energy efficiency.

In an official statement, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the 2030 package is very good news for the fight against climate change.

Fri, 2014-10-24 07:50Guy Dauncey
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They're Doing it in Germany Part 1: How to Green B.C. Energy

germany, sustainable energy, bc

They’re doing it in Germany: 140 regions of the country have set a goal to become 100 per cent renewable energy regions, covering 30 per cent of Germany’s land and 26 per cent of her people, as we learnt in the June.

Could British Columbia do the same? The climate emergency warnings are dire, and the need is great. When viewed historically, it is clear that the age of fossil fuels represents only the tiniest blip of time. Deep down, we know we need to stop using them.

Here in B.C., 80 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions—the direct cause of climate change—come from burning fossil fuels, so it’s clear that a transition is needed.

So let’s embark on a mental exercise to see what it might involve. Would the transition away from fossil fuels fatally weaken B.C.’s economy, as some conservative thinkers fear? Worse yet, would it drag us back to the dark ages? Are the fear-mongers right? These are important questions to address.

Thu, 2014-10-23 10:00Chris Rose
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Wind Power Could Supply 25% of Global Electricity By 2050 — If Fossil Fuel Industry Doesn't Get in the Way

wind power, clean energy

Wind power has become so successful that it could provide 25 to 30 per cent of global electricity supply by mid-century if vested interests don’t get in the way, according to a new report published Tuesday.

The report — Global Wind Energy Outlook 2014 — said that commercial wind power installations in more than 90 countries had a total installed capacity of 318 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2013, providing about three per cent of global electricity supply.

By 2030, the report said, wind power could reach 2,000 GW, supply up to 17 to 19 per cent of global electricity, create over two million new jobs and reduce CO2 emissions by more than three billion tonnes per year.

The report published by the Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International noted that while emissions-free wind power continues to play a growing role in international electricity supply, political, economic and institutional inertia is hampering attempts to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Mon, 2014-10-13 08:00Chris Rose
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New Report: Who Will Pay for the Costs and Damages of Climate Change?

people's climate march, zack embree

Canadian oil and gas companies could be liable for billions of dollars of damages per year for their contribution to climate change caused by toxic greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study published Thursday.

The study looked at five oil and gas companies currently trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange — Encana, Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources, Talisman, and Husky — and found they could presently be incurring a global liability as high as $2.4 billion annually.

Climate change is increasingly discussed not as some far-off threat but in terms of current realities,” said the 62-page study — Payback Time? What the internationalization of climate litigation could mean for Canadian oil and gas companies.

Published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL), the study found data showing the global financial cost of private and public property and other damage associated with climate change in 2010 has been estimated at $591 billion, rising to $4.2 trillion in 2030.

Thu, 2014-10-09 13:19Guest
Guest's picture

Climate Litigation is Here and it Could Cost Canadian Oil Companies Billions

people's climate march, zack embree

This is a guest post by Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel and head of the Climate Change program at West Coast Environmental Law, and Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. This article originally appeared in the Globe and Mail.

Climate change is no longer a distant threat. Peer-reviewed science has already linked climate change to drought in Texas and Australia, extreme heat in Europe, Russia, Japan, and Korea, and storm-surge flooding during Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan.

Climate change is already causing about $600-billion in damages annually. Here in Canada, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy estimated that climate change will cost Canadians $5-billion annually by 2020.

Canadian oil and gas companies could soon find themselves on the hook for at least part of the damage. For as climate change costs increase, a global debate has begun about who should pay.

Wed, 2014-10-08 13:23Chris Hatch
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Industry Lobbying to Weaken B.C.’s Clean Fuel Rules, Despite Soaring Profits

Fuel prices in BC

One of British Columbia’s most effective climate regulations is at risk.

Even though fuel providers make more profit off drivers in B.C. than anywhere else in Canada, industry is requesting the province review low-carbon fuel standards, which require vehicle fuels to become cleaner.

As energy experts recently wrote in an op-ed for the Vancouver Sun, B.C.’s policy has been effective at cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vehicles without people even noticing a change in their lifestyle.

Most British Columbians don’t even realize their fuel is becoming cleaner. By all accounts, the clean fuel rules have been a quiet success story.

And yet, those rules have come under threat.

Fuel providers in B.C. are asking the provincial government to review its ‘renewable and low-carbon fuel regulations.’

According to John Axsen, professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University, some fuel providers “want the B.C. government to weaken [the policy].”

Tue, 2014-10-07 13:43Chris Rose
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“No Overall Vision:” Scathing New Audit from Environment Commissioner Exposes Canada’s Utter Climate Failure

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

Canada will almost certainly not meet its international greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2020 and doesn’t even have a plan showing how the nation might achieve its climate change goals, according to a blistering new report released Tuesday.

Julie Gelfand, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, said a climate change audit found current federal measures will have little effect on emissions by 2020, the year Canada committed under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels.

Gelfand said in her report that the government has introduced regulations in the transportation and electricity generation sectors.

She noted, however, that regulations in the oil and gas sector — where emissions are growing the fastest — are still not in place eight years after the government first indicated it would regulate this area.

There is strong evidence that Canada will not meet its international 2020 greenhouse-gas-emission reduction target,” she said. “The federal government does not have an overall plan that maps out how Canada will achieve this target. Canadians have not been given the details about which regulations will be developed, when, nor what greenhouse gas reductions will be expected.”

“Canadians are being grossly misled if they think that this government has even the remotest intention of ever trying to achieve any greenhouse gas targets, let alone join the realm of civilized nations,” Liberal environment critic John McKay said in response to the audit.

Sat, 2014-09-27 12:17Carol Linnitt
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Climate Changes Everything in Canada Too: Naomi Klein Says DeSmog Canada “Indispensible Tool” in Her Work

In her new book, This Changes Everything, Canadian author Naomi Klein positions climate change as a form of social disaster, which, like a lot of other disasters cannot be gazed upon for too long.

We are constantly finding ways and reasons to “look away,” she writes, “or maybe we do look – really look – but then, inevitably, we seem to forget.”

Climate change is like that; it’s hard to keep it in your head for very long. We engage in this odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia for perfectly rational reasons. We deny because we fear that letting in the full reality of this crisis will change everything.”

And we are right.”

Part of the strategy of this forgetting or looking away, as Klein frames it, is in the myriad technical, lifestyle or personal ‘solutions’ to a warming globe that refuse to question the deeper roots of the climate crisis, the structural and socio-economic logic both creating the problem and masquerading as its solution.

Tue, 2014-09-23 11:54Carol Linnitt
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Critics Call Harper Government’s New Climate PR Campaign ‘Orwellian’

environment canada, climate change, pr campaign

Facing criticism in the lead up to today’s UN Climate Summit, which prime minister Stephen Harper is not attending, the Harper Government released a new public outreach campaign through Environment Canada, praising the country’s action on climate change.

The campaign points to four pillars of Canada’s climate progress including efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, investing in climate adaptation, “world-class scientific research to inform decision-making,” and international leadership in climate action.

Already critics are pointing to the apparent disparity between the Environment Canada campaign and Canada’s waning reputation on the international stage for its climate obstruction, the muzzling of scientists, the elimination of environmental legislation and massive cuts to federal research and science programs.

Reading the Harper government’s claims about its climate efforts is like reading one of Orwell’s books,” Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environment Management, said.

Like what you're reading? Help us bring you more. Click here to support DeSmog Canada's Kickstarter campaign to clean up the climate and energy debate in Canada.

Eliminating policy is to implement policy. Blocking and abandoning global negotiations is to lead global negotiations. Muzzling scientists is to have science inform decision-making. Working hard to increase carbon pollution is to decrease it. Black is white. Dishonesty is truth.”

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