climate change

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.

Wed, 2014-12-10 11:12Carol Linnitt
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Fossil Fuel Industry Arguments for Carbon Sequestration Cause Uproar at COP20 UNFCCC Climate Talks

UNFCCC COP20

A side event at the UNFCCC COP20 climate negotiations in Lima, Peru was disrupted Monday when climate activists and individuals representing communities on the frontlines of energy development flooded the presentation hall and staged a ‘walk out’ on fossil fuels.

The event was hosted by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the Global CCS Institute and featured Lord Nicholas Stern and David Hone, Shell’s chief climate advisor, as speakers.

The talk, originally entitled “Why Divest from Fossil Fuels When a Future with Low Emission Fossil Fuel Energy Use is Already a Reality?,” was inexplicably renamed “How Can we Reconcile Climate Targets with Energy Demand Growth” and focused on the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a technological solution to carbon emissions that cause global warming.

A citizen group formed outside the venue holding a banner that read “get fossil fuels out of COP” and used the acronym CCS to spell out “Corporate Capture ≠ Solution.”

Tue, 2014-12-09 21:20Steve Horn
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Like Canada's Harper Government, Obama Administration Muzzling Its Scientists

In recent years, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for disallowing scientists working for the Canadian government to speak directly to the press

An article published in August by The New Republic said “Harper's antagonism toward climate-change experts in his government may sound familiar to Americans,” pointing to similar deeds done by the George W. Bush Administration. That article also said that “Bush's replacement,” President Barack Obama, “has reversed course” in this area.

Society for Professional Journalists, the largest trade association for professional journalists in the U.S., disagrees with this conclusion. 

In a December 1 letter written to Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the society chided the Obama administration for its methods of responding to journalists' queries to speak to EPA-associated scientists. 

“We write to urge you again to clarify that members of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the twenty other EPA science advisory committees have the right and are encouraged to speak to the public and the press about any scientific issues, including those before these committees, in a personal capacity without prior authorization from the agency,” said the letter.

“We urge you…to ensure that EPA advisory committee members are encouraged share their expertise and opinions with those who would benefit from it.”

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.”

Sat, 2014-11-29 13:32Guy Dauncey
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They're Doing it in Germany Part 4: The Small But Critical Steps to B.C.'s Renewable Future

pipe up network, social organizing, zack embree

During the first three parts in this series, I found that becoming a 100 per cent renewable energy region is mostly possible, but when it comes to long-distance trucking, shipping and flying it will need some technological breakthroughs, supported by regional and international cooperation.

But so what?

We could become an 80 per cent or 90 per cent renewable energy region on our own provincial efforts, and a government that chose to make it a priority could play a powerful leadership role in helping the world to tackle the larger problems that we’ll need to overcome to get to 100 per cent.

We need such leadership urgently. Climate change is already hitting communities and entire states with dramatic forest fires, superstorms, and 1000-year floods or droughts —and it’s only going to get worse. In mid-August, a senior NASA water scientist estimated that the entire state of California could run out of water within 12 to 18 months.

Mon, 2014-11-24 14:04Scott Vrooman
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VIDEO: Maybe the People on Burnaby Mountain Aren't Who We Should Be Worried About

Scott Vrooman, burnaby mountain, kinder morgan, protest

This video, by comedian Scott Vrooman, originally appeared on the Toronto Star.

American energy corporation Kinder Morgan filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against five Trans Mountain pipeline protestors in Burnaby, B.C., because apparently nobody told them the average income of a pipeline protestor.

The National Energy Board  an anagram of “regulatory capture” — ruled that the City of Burnaby can’t stop Kinder from carrying out its work, so now the protestors are accused of trespassing in their own city’s park. Kinder solved the Not In My Backyard problem by taking the backyard.

The company also claims that protestors’ angry facial expressions constitute an assault on their workers. They’re arguing that freedom of expression doesn’t extend to your face. So I assume that if protestors draw angry faces onto their butts and display those towards Kinder Morgan workers, that won’t constitute assault. And I encourage every protestor to test that theory.

All of this comes within the context of a wider attempt to delegitimize protest itself. The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy which just installed a new oil feature in their garden it’s lovely  they recently held a conference on “social license,” where the case was made that protestors undermine the rule of law by claiming to speak for the whole community.

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…

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