greenhouse gas emissions

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

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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, 2014-07-09 16:53Derek Leahy
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Soaring Transportation Emissions Preventing Ontario From Meeting Climate Targets: Environment Watchdog

Ontario may have shut down its last coal plant earlier this year, but the province still needs to make major cuts to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it produces if the provincial government is serious about tackling global warming, according to a new report.

The provincial government hasn’t even delivered on commitments it made seven years ago,” Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller said in a statement on Wednesday.

Miller, who is Ontario’s independent environmental watchdog, did not mince words in his report on the province’s slow progress in reducing its overall carbon footprint. He says Ontario will not meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets “because [Ontario] has taken very little additional action to implement the Climate Change Action Plan it released seven years ago.”

We need to limit the increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. But that can only be done if we leave two-thirds of the existing oil and natural gas reserves in the ground. People need to understand that brutal fact,” Miller warns.

Mon, 2014-06-23 10:18Derek Leahy
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Ecologically Unique ‘Ring of Fire’ Needs More Study Before Development, Groups Say

Ring of Fire mining, DeSmog Canada, Ontario

Two Ontario-based environmental organizations are calling on the recently reelected Ontario Liberal government to assess the potential cumulative social and environmental impacts of mining projects in northern Ontario's ‘Ring of Fire’ before mining begins. The ecological services Ontario’s Far North provides Canada and the world are too valuable to take for granted the organizations argue in a report released last week.

Simply put, this is not a place that can be “offset” or restored if it is damaged or destroyed by poorly planned development,” the report, Getting it Right in Ontario’s Far North, states.

Northern Ontario is the single largest intact extant of boreal forest in the world. It is the last refuge for species at risk such as caribou, wolverine and lake sturgeon and the nesting grounds for thousands of songbirds. The region is a “critical storehouse” of carbon in the fight against climate change. The forests and peat lands of Ontario’s Far North absorb 12.5 million tonnes of global warming carbon dioxide emissions annually, and store ninety-seven billion tonnes of carbon.

The federal government estimates between thirty to fifty billion dollars worth of mineral resources lay beneath ground of the so-called Ring of Fire, a five thousands kilometer squared area (roughly the size of PEI) five hundred kilometers north of Thunder Bay in the northern James Bay Lowlands.

We need a planning process that is equal to the scale and complexity of the challenge, rather than continuing to depend on piecemeal efforts that put wildlife species and human communities at higher risk in the face of global pressures like climate change and a race for resources,” Cheryl Chetkiewicz, associate conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada, said.

Thu, 2014-06-19 11:06Derek Leahy
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Energy East, Line 9 Pipelines Will Have “Insignificant” Economic Impact on Quebec, Says Report

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Quebec will gain “minimal economic benefits” from west-to-east oil pipeline projects such as TransCanada’s Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 9 according to a new report released this month. Both projects would transport western Canadian oil and oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen to refineries and ports in Quebec, but would only make a combined 0.50 per cent contribution to economic activity and 0.30 per cent to jobs in the province.

Quebec will bear almost all of the risks and costs associated with spills and other environmental impacts, without any offsetting economic gains,” Brigid Rowan, senior economist with the consulting firm The Goodman Group Ltd., and co-author of the report says.

Oilsands producers, pipeline companies, and the owners of the two refineries in Quebec have the most to gain from Line 9 and Energy East concludes the report by The Goodman Group Ltd. in collaboration with Greenpeace and Equiterre. The fifty-five-page report also refutes claims by pipeline proponents that supplying Quebec with cheaper western Canadian bitumen will make things cheaper at the gas pump for Quebecers.

Refineries will not provide discounts for Quebec markets when they can also sell their refined products to profitable markets outside Quebec,” the report states.

Consumers who think that oil companies will give them a break at the gas pump have another thing coming,” Pierre-Olivier Pineau, an energy specialist at HEC Montreal Business School warns.

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

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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.

Fri, 2014-05-23 10:20Carol Linnitt
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Albertans are Ready for Stronger Emissions Regulations. Will They Get Them?

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A new Ipsos Reid poll released today shows 76 per cent of Albertans are in favour of stronger greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulations for industrial facilities.

The federal government has faced scrutiny for failing to release GHG performance regulations for the oil and gas sector for several years. Alberta’s existing rules, the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER), are set to expire on September 1, 2014.

Facing the release of a new climate plan and potential new carbon tax arrangement, Alberta premier Dave Hancock said his government is in talks with industry.

There are some producers – there are lots of producers – who would say: ‘Don’t do anything, this is already a cost to us, and we can’t afford to pay more because we don’t have any room to innovate, so it’s just a cost to us.’ The more progressive operators would say: ‘If incented appropriately, we can look harder,’” Hancock said.

How do you actually create a process where big emitters can find a way to meet standards? It’s not a tax, it’s an alternative way of meeting the outcome,” he said.

A Progressive Conservative Party leadership vote is scheduled for September 6, leading some to speculate new emissions regulations will be left off the table until a later date.

Waiting for consensus means waiting indefinitely,” Simon Dyer, the Pembina Institute’s regional director for Alberta and the North, said. “Albertans clearly want their government to make a decision and move forward with stronger greenhouse gas rules for industry.”

Sun, 2014-05-11 13:56Chris Rose
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Last Week was Crucial for Climate Science, Not So for Climate Politics

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This past week was, in the continually escalating climate change war, one of great disconnect, confusion and uncertainty.

While there is no doubt that humankind finds itself in the middle of a much-needed transition away from the business-as-usual model of burning fossil fuels, powerful and manipulative forces continue to resist a growing movement to use greener, cleaner energy.

Many of those sinister forces are headquartered, or operate in, the United States which boasts the world’s greatest economy while being the second worst emitter of greenhouse gasses after China.

So it came as a shock to many mainstream media outlets this week when the third U.S. National Climate Assessment report said Tuesday that climate change is already negatively affecting the United States and the future looks even more dismal if coordinated mitigation and adaptation efforts are not immediately pursued.

Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” notes the massive NCA report.

Fri, 2014-03-28 15:02Derek Leahy
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Provinces Take Action on Carbon Emissions Reductions Where Federal Government Is Failing, Says Report

Several provincial initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are closing the gap created by the federal government’s continuing lack of climate legislation. This patchwork of provincial policies may be the future of climate policy in Canada, according to a review of Canadian climate or carbon policy in 2013.

If we have learned anything about carbon policy in Canada, it is that top-down national systems are lost to the federation and we need to embrace bottom-up subnational systems,” argues the review released recently by the prestigious International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Winnipeg.

The Institute found in 2013 the federal government’s will to implement greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reducing regulations “evaporated,” but several Canadian provinces had “major successes” in adopting measures to reduce their own provincial carbon footprints. BC’s carbon tax, Quebec’s cap and trade system and Ontario phasing out coal-fired power plants are a few highlights of 2013 filling the lack of federal climate policy gap mentioned in the report.

Tue, 2014-02-11 11:57Derek Leahy
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Ontario Approves Importing U.S. Fracked Gas

The Ontario Energy Board’s approval of three natural gas projects last week puts the province’s plans to significantly reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint in jeopardy.

The ruling also gives Ontario the green light to import controversial shale gas from the U.S. This type of gas is trapped in rock-like shale and is extracted using a process called hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, which involves pumping a chemical mix underground at high temperatures to break apart the rock and free the gas. The practice has caused controversy worldwide due to fracking chemicals and methane contaminating drinking water.

So often we see approvals given to pipeline and fossil fuel projects without a real understanding of the broader and long-term impacts on climate, water and public health,” says Emma Lui, a water campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

Mon, 2013-11-18 09:18Russell Blinch
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Canadians Losing Confidence in Governments on Climate Says New Poll

Canada tar sands, oilsands by Kris Krug

Canadians are losing confidence that governments will take the lead in battling climate change, all the while becoming more certain that humans are behind global warming, according to a new poll by the Environics Institute, in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

The belief that governments will take a lead role battling changes has dropped to 53 percent from 59 percent in a year, according to the poll, which comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government faces rising criticism at home and abroad for inaction concerning greenhouse gas emissions.

“Canadians have for decades looked to their governments for leadership on addressing climate change and other environmental problems,” Keith Neuman, executive director of Environics, said in a statement. “This latest survey shows a noticeable drop in the public's confidence in governments' capacity to play this role, and this may well be because citizens haven't seen any evidence of leadership, especially at the federal level.”

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