oilsands

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, 2014-11-12 18:52Emma Gilchrist and Carol Linnitt
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Convenient Conspiracy: How Vivian Krause Became the Poster Child for Canada’s Anti-Environment Crusade

Vivian Krause The Province

Today Vivian Krause published an opinion piece in The Province claiming “a vote for Vision is a vote for U.S. oil interests.” So, you might be wondering: just who is Vivian Krause? We’re so glad you asked…

An essential component of all public relations campaigns is having the right messenger— a credible, impassioned champion of your cause.

While many PR pushes fail to get off the ground, those that really catch on — the ones that gain political attention and result in debates and senate inquiries — almost always have precisely the right poster child.

And in the federal government and oil industry’s plight to discredit environmental groups, the perfect poster child just so happens to be Vivian Krause.

Tue, 2014-11-11 12:37Chris Rose
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Kinder Morgan Oversells Benefits of Trans Mountain Pipeline, Underplays Costs, Says New Report

Kinder Morgan has significantly overstated the benefits of its controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal while vastly understating risks associated with increasing the flow of oil to Metro Vancouver.

That’s the conclusion of a new economic analysis by Simon Fraser University and The Goodman Group Ltd. which also recommended that the proposed expansion be rejected as it is neither in the economic nor public interest of B.C. and Metro Vancouver.

The jobs created are nowhere near the number claimed by Kinder Morgan and the costs are grossly underestimated when the risks of a major spill, particularly one occurring in the Vancouver area, are factored in,” said Doug McArthur, director of SFU’s Graduate School of Public Policy, which co-authored the report.

The whole project is highly questionable from a public policy point of view,” McArthur added.

Mon, 2014-11-03 15:41Chris Rose
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“Citizen Interventions” Have Cost Canada’s Tar Sands Industry $17B, New Report Shows

Oil companies and fossil fuel investors seeking further developments in the Alberta tar sands have been dealt another setback with the publication of a report showing producers lost $17.1 billion USD between 2010-2013 due to successful public protest campaigns.

Fossil fuel companies lost $30.9 billion overall during the same period partly due to the changing North American oil market but largely because of a fierce grassroots movement against tar sands development, said the report — Material Risks: How Public Accountability Is Slowing Tar Sands Development.

A significant segment of opposition is from First Nations in Canada who are raising sovereignty claims and other environmental challenges, added the report, which was produced by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Oil Change International (OCI).

Tar sands producers face a new kind of risk from growing public opposition,” Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at IEEFA, and one of the lead authors on the report, said. “This opposition has achieved a permanent presence as public sentiment evolves and as the influence of organizations opposed to tar sands production continues to grow.”

Tue, 2014-10-28 11:20Emma Gilchrist
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Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Advertising Blitz During Election Doesn't Count as Elections Advertising: Elections BC Ruling

Kinder Morgan TransMountain advertisement

Kinder Morgan has launched an advertising campaign pushing the company’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that just so happens to coincide with B.C.’s municipal elections — but Elections BC says the company doesn’t need to register as a third-party advertiser.

That’s a bit of a puzzler given that Elections BC rules clearly state that anyone who runs ads on an election issue must register as a third-party advertiser and disclose costs within 90 days of the Nov. 15 election.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the amount of oilsands bitumen flowing to the B.C. coast, is certainly an election issue, with Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson staking out positions against the project.

An online survey for the Burnaby NOW found the pipeline expansion is the No. 1 concern for Burnaby voters during the civic election.

Sun, 2014-10-19 09:28Guy Dauncey
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Something Amazing Just Happened with Solar Energy in B.C.

solar power, clean energy, BC, guy dauncey

This article originally appeared on the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association website.

It’s known as “the warm land,” and as soon as you get off the highway Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley certainly has the feeling of pleasant summer warmth, filled with agricultural fecundity. It was the Coast Salish Cowichan people who gave it the name - that’s what cowichan means in the Hul’q’umi’num language.

So solar energy lies deep in the heritage of the valley, and maybe its appropriate that British Columbia’s first solar bulk buy has sprung unto life here, and is pioneering a new approach to solar installations.

Peter Nix—who calls himself a Cowichan carbon-buster—started pondering the possibility in May, so he was ready to leap when the opportunity arose to place a bulk order for 720 solar panels, totaling 200 kilowatts. A large project had fallen through, and the panels were available at 72 cents a watt, much less than the market norm of $1.00 a watt for solar PV of this quality.

Thu, 2014-10-16 09:09Derek Leahy
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UN Report Lays Out Canada’s Path to 90 Per Cent Emissions Reductions by 2050

Canada can reduce its carbon footprint by 90 per cent, play its part in the fight against climate change and grow its economy at the same time according to a recent report by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 

This is a really important piece of analysis for Canada. It shows that we can cut our carbon pollution dramatically by 2050, making a strong contribution to tackling climate change, while growing our economy by over 200 per cent,” Clare Demerse, a senior policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada says.

By powering transportation, buildings and electricity with largely renewable energy (water-power, wind, solar) and biofuels and applying wide spread use of greenhouse gas (GHG) capturing technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the oil and gas sector the report argues Canada can cut its GHG emissions production by 90 per cent by 2050 based on 2010 levels.

The catch is none of this can happen unless Canada implements policies effectively regulating the production of GHG emissions, something the federal government has so far been unable to do.

Many of the major changes described in the Canadian decarbonization pathway will not occur without strong policy signals, which will require public support and in many cases will be driven by public pressure,” the UN network concludes. 

Thu, 2014-10-09 13:19Guest
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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.

Thu, 2014-10-09 11:55Carol Linnitt
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After Years of Intensive Lobbying, EU to Drop Oilsands’ Dirty Fuel Label

oilsands alex maclean

The European Union will not label fuel from Alberta’s oilsands as highly polluting despite years of efforts to distinguish the crude and other unconventional fuels for their high environmental impacts.

A proposal released Tuesday by the European Commission lifts a requirement forcing refiners to identify when supplying fuel from unconventional sources such as oilsands or oil shale. The commission will lift the requirement even though internal estimates show these fuel sources contain higher carbon emissions than conventional sources.

The dropped requirement within the European Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) comes after years of intense lobbying on behalf of the Canadian and Albertan government.

“The Harper government, in collaboration with the major oil companies, unleashed an unprecedented assault on clean fuels legislation in Europe even as they gutted environmental laws at home,” Keith Stewart, energy and climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, told DeSmog Canada. 

I think the question Canadians should ask themselves is: Do we want our diplomats to operate as a lobbying arm of Big Oil?” he said.

Stewart also noted the federal government's Pan-European Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy labelled oil companies as “allies” while environmental and Aboriginal groups were listed as “adversaries.”

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.

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