climate change

Thu, 2014-10-23 12:00Peter Wood
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B.C. Ought to Consider Petronas’ Human Rights Record Before Bowing to Malaysian Company's LNG Demands

Penan people of Sarawak blockade a Petronas pipeline

It should come as no surprise that Petronas expects B.C. to cave in to its demands to expedite the process of approving its Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and natural gas pipeline, lowering taxes and weakening environmental regulations in the process.

After all, Petronas has a well-established record of getting what it wants in the other countries it operates in, such as Sudan, Myanmar, Chad and Malaysia.

This week, the B.C. government did cave to at least one Petronas’ demands — cutting the peak income tax rate for LNG facilities from seven to 3.5 per cent, thereby slashing in half the amount of revenue it’s expecting to receive from the liquefied natural industry.  The government also introduced a standard for carbon pollution for B.C.’s LNG industry, which was hailed as a step in the right direction, but not enough.

In considering Petronas’ bid to develop B.C.’s natural gas resources, it is vital that we consider the company’s track record.

In 2011, I had the opportunity to witness the destruction caused by a Petronas pipeline, while working with the international NGO Global Witness. While staying with the semi-nomadic Penan people of Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo), I heard testimony of how the company had treated them in the course of constructing the pipeline.

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

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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.

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. 

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
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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.

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.

Sat, 2014-09-27 06:00Chris Rose
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Doctors Remind Politicians of Health Consequences of Failure to Address Climate Change

Vote-hungry politicians reluctant to act on climate change because they are beholden to the powerful fossil fuel sector just received a poor prognosis from the medical profession.

Climate change is not only happening but it can exacerbate many environmental health risks familiar to clinicians and public health professionals, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Harm from climate change includes respiratory disorders, infectious diseases, food insecurity, and mental health disorders, said the JAMA study, Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Health.

Tue, 2014-09-23 09:17Carol Linnitt
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Stephen Harper to Skip Meeting of World Leaders at UN Climate Summit Today

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

Although the heads of 125 states are gathering at UN Headquarters in New York today to discuss global commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, Stephen Harper will be elsewhere.

Instead Canada’s prime minister will arrive in New York in two days time to attend the UN’s Every Woman, Every Child event on September 25th.

The UN Climate Summit is intended to “galvanize and catalyze climate action” in advance of the Paris COP climate talks in 2015 where countries will form binding agreements to address global warming.

President Barack Obama will announce a new executive order today that directs all federal agencies to include climate concerns in international aid and development initiatives.

China’s president Xi Jinping, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and Australian prime minister Tony Abbott have also announced they will not attend the summit.

China announced vice premier Zhang Gaoli will attend in the president’s place and Canada will send environment minister Leona Aglukkaq in Harper’s stead.

China is the number one emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, followed by the U.S. and India. Canada and Australia are eighth and fourteenth, respectively, according to data released by the European Commission.

In the lead up to the summit UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said “this is the time for decisive global action.”

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