climate change

Group Asks New Alberta Government to Review Oilsands Water Usage Amid Extreme Wild Fires

Conservation group Keepers of the Athabasca is asking the Alberta government to review water usage rules for oilsands companies as the province struggles with unseasonably low water levels and raging wild fires.

Current rules set out under the Surface Water Quantity Management Framework allow two oilsands majors, Suncor and Syncrude, to continue water withdrawals for their operations even when water levels are extremely low. All other oilsands operators are required to abide by set limits.

Alberta is currently fighting 65 forest fires, some near oilsands projects, that are being fueled by extremely dry conditions. Twenty fires are currently considered “out of control.” This week the government initiated a province-wide fire ban. Water bombers are currently being used to suppress the flames.

Dear Dalhousie and Queens: Please Divest So I Don't Have to Rip Up My Degrees on Camera

divestment

At least 75 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change, but not only are fossil fuel companies committed to burning all of those reserves, they’re spending billions searching for more. Wrecking the climate in exchange for money is officially the worst business model. Truck Nutz, you’re off the hook.

Every time we read another bowel-loosening article on climate change it’s easy to feel powerless because fossil fuel companies are so deeply entrenched in our economy and politics. But one way people are pushing back is divestment. If institutions remove their investments from fossil fuel companies, it sends the industry a message in a language it understands — money — that its business model is no longer acceptable. We don’t like you anymore. You’re losers.

I Hate to Break it to You, B.C., But You're Not a Climate Leader

This is a guest post by Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner with the Sierra Club B.C.

If you live in British Columbia you might think that our province is a climate champion, because you heard it from our government. Last month, for example, the provincial government sent out a bold press release touting B.C. as a world leader in climate action. The release highlighted B.C.'s carbon tax and the accomplishment of “meeting our 2012 GHG reduction target.”

However, just a few days later, the Canadian government released its latest greenhouse gas emissions data showing that B.C.'s emissions actually increased by 2.4 per cent in 2013 (to 63 million tons of greenhouse gases, from 61.5 in 2012). This is a big deal, because the threat of global warming has reached a point at which we cannot afford our annual emissions to continue to increase.

In March, the monthly global average concentration of carbon dioxide passed 400 parts per million. When the concentration of greenhouse gases was last this high, temperatures were several degrees warmer and sea level many metres higher.

Experts Slow Clap for Canada’s Late and 'Inadequate' Climate Target

Months after most countries revealed national climate targets in the lead up to the December 2015 UN climate summit, Canada has finally announced its contribution to global emissions reductions — and its commitment is getting a failing grade from the climate community.

The NewClimate Institute rated Canada's target as “inadequate.”

In rating Canada ‘inadequate,’ our lowest rating, we note that other governments will have to take a lot more action to make up for the hole left by Canada’s lack of ambition — if warming is to be held to 2˚C,” said Niklas Höhne of the institute.

Canada is promising to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

According to Climate Action International, Canada is unlikely to meet that target, even though it is much weaker than commitments made by other industrial nations.

Cap and Trade in Quebec and Ontario: A Primer

Cap and trade is in the new kid in town as far as carbon pricing goes in Canada. In April, just before the Premiers' Climate SummitOntario made headlines by announcing it will join Quebec’s cap and trade system, which is linked to cap and trade in California.

So just how does it work? Here's our short primer.

The system was first adopted by Quebec in 2013 (although it’s worth noting the province did impose a tax on gas and diesel fuel back in 2007).

The benefits of emissions trading, beyond ensuring the climate goal is reached in a measurable manner, is that business has flexible compliance options and ‘carrots’ — incentives for making smart, economic business decisions,” Katie Sullivan, director for North America and Climate Finance at the International Emissions Trading Association, said.

Like Alberta’s carbon levy, Quebec’s system puts a price on emissions above a certain level.

More Than 10,000 Enroll In Free University Course To Debunk Climate Science Denial

More than 10,000 people from 150 countries have signed up for a free online university course that aims to explain the science of climate science denial and give the public the best tools to fight misinformation.

The course, from the University of Queensland in Australia, has recruited some of the world’s leading climate scientists, along with psychologists, science historians and even world famous natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough, who all gave interviews for Denial101x.  Course instructors include scientists and contributors to the Skeptical Science website.

John Cook, course developer, instructor and Climate Communication Fellow at the university’s Global Change Institute, told DeSmogBlog the seven-week course would explain everything from the fundamentals of climate change science, to the techniques used by climate science deniers and the psychologies of denial.

He hopes the course will help to “close the consensus gap” – the chasm between the 97 per cent of expert scientists who accept that humans are causing climate change and members of the public, politicians and media commentators who still reject the science. 

What’s Stopping Canada from Putting a Price on Carbon?

For the first time in several years, carbon pricing in Canada is back on the national radar.

Recently a group of more than 60 Canadian experts published a report, Acting on Climate Change, that outlined Canada's path to a low-carbon future. Their first recommendation? Put a price on carbon. The idea seems to be gaining serious traction with Canadians, the majority of which support carbon pricing according to a recent Angus Reid poll. 

In the lead up to this month’s Premiers’ Climate Summit in Quebec City, Ontario’s premier Kathleen Wynne announced her province would join Quebec’s cap-and-trade agreement with California — putting major stock in a carbon-pricing solution to provincial emissions.

The conservative Manning Centre conference was praised for holding an “adult conversation” about carbon pricing in March just after a collaboration between oilsands majors and green groups working together for a carbon tax hit the press.

Most Canadians Support Carbon Pricing, See Climate as Election Issue: New Poll

A new poll released today by Angus Reid finds the majority of Canadians support carbon pricing programs and more than half the population would like to see a national climate policy instituted at the federal level.

Although Canadians say they’re ready for climate action, there’s a lot less certainty surrounding climate leadership at the federal level, according to poll results.

There also appears to be some question about the actual impact of a carbon price but, despite the uncertainty, 75 per cent of Canadians support the idea of a national cap and trade program, and 56 per cent support the idea of a national carbon tax.

Currently Canada has a smattering of province-led carbon price initiatives — B.C.’s celebrated carbon tax being perhaps the most notable — although no national program to reduce emissions exists.

The Faulty Logic Behind the Argument That Canada's Emissions Are a ‘Drop in the Bucket'

At the premiers' climate summit this week, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall brought up a statistic that has received a fair amount of attention lately: Canada’s emissions account for fewer than two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

He's not wrong, but used as an argument against doing our part to combat climate change, his point does contain some flawed logic.

“Showing leadership matters, signals matter, examples matter, but the numbers are the numbers,” Wall said.

Essentially, Wall appears to be suggesting that because no single action by itself will solve the problem, we shouldn’t take that single action.

Applying this logic to other situations reveals just how faulty it is.

Proponents of Renewable Energy Will Own the 21st Century, Say Leaders at World Congress

Vancouver city council’s unanimous decision to commit to running on 100 per cent renewable energy is the kind of political leadership the world desperately needs says Jørgen Randers, professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway.

Despite the looming catastrophe of climate change the market will choose to do nothing,” Randers said in the keynote speech at the ICLEI World Congress 2015, the triennial sustainability summit of local governments in Seoul, South Korea.

Nor will voluntary actions on climate be enough. Strong legislation, intelligent policy and collective action are the only ways to keep humanity from a nightmare future, said the former business executive who still sits on boards of major corporations.

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