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Canada Has Enormous Geothermal Potential. Why Aren’t We Using it?

Like a stand of eager horses chomping at the bit, Canada’s young geothermal industry is waiting impatiently at the starting line, ready for the race to begin.
 
But there’s no starting pistol in sight. At least, not yet.
 
Getting geothermal projects up and running in Canada “has been harder than it needs to be,” according to Alison Thompson, founder and president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CANGea).
 
Thompson, along with a group of delegates from Canada’s geothermal industry, is currently in Reykjavik at the Iceland Geothermal Conference where delegates, experts and scientists from around the world are swapping stories from the geothermal trenches.
 
Despite having the second largest delegation at the conference after Iceland, Canada has little to show or tell.
 
“Canada has an incredibly high quality resource and we can’t even get out of the starting gate,” Thompson told DeSmog Canada.

Does National Unity Have to be a Casualty of Canada's Energy Debate?

Workers are laying down their tools across the Canadian oilpatch as the price slump draws on. Alberta had a net loss of nearly 20,000 jobs in 2015, with skilled workers being laid off and little hope in sight. The reaction, then, to talks of climate action has been often hostile, with people fearing more economic damage from carbon pricing or other new environmental regulation.
 
But for some there is an upside to the glut of out-of-work skilled people: it’s an opportunity to shift gears and put them to work in a growing green sector. Former oilsands tradesman Lliam Hildebrand started a non-profit group, Iron & Earth, to get oilpatch workers back to work on the next generation of green energy projects. (Investment in clean energy now doubles that of fossil fuels world-wide.)
 
“We have the skills to build the renewable energy infrastructure required for Canada to meet their climate target,” Hildebrand told CBC News. “That will open up a huge amount of opportunity for us if we can start diversifying our energy grid and it would ensure that we are less vulnerable to price fluctuations.”
 
The new organization brings a fresh perspective to a longstanding perceived tension between climate action and its spinoff benefits and the fear of damaging existing emissions-intensive industries.

In a panel discussion last week Environment Minister Catherine McKenna assured Albertans that the Liberal government would not risk damaging “national unity” by acting quickly on climate change. For some, her comment begs the question: when exactly will the Liberals be ready to start acting on their emissions reductions targets?

Five Scary Facts About Canada’s Water (And Two Bits of Good News)

Canadians have long been labouring under “the myth of abundance” when it comes to our water resources and we’re in the midst of experiencing an abrupt wake-up call, according to experts.
 
“We often think of the earth as this wonderful blue pearl, but how much water is there?” says Oliver Brandes, leader of the Water Sustainability Project at the University of Victoria. “Only 2.5 per cent of that water is fresh. A much smaller amount, about 0.3 per cent, is the ground or surface water where we live.”
 
Brandes told an audience at a September Walrus Talks event that Canada needs to modernize its thinking about water.
 
“Water, not oil, will define the 21st century,” he said, adding climate change and global conflict will only increase the value of water as a resource.
 
“If climate change is a shark, water will be its teeth — that’s how we’ll feel it.”

Canada's Unmuzzled Scientists Call for Protection From Future Muzzling

It already feels like a long time ago.
 
Remember way, way back when Canada’s federal scientists were shackled to their laboratory tables, unable to speak out or walk freely in the light of day?
 
I don’t mean to sound trivial; the war on science in Canada was real and severe in its implications and in some places devastating in its consequences.
 
But looking back on what Canadians are calling the ‘dark decade’ already feels ridiculous somehow, like it’s a caricature of our past reality. How did things get so bad?
 
That’s something the scientific community at large is asking itself, in a serious attempt to prevent ideology-driven, anti-science policies from taking root once again.
 
“Science should never be silenced again,” Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), a union representing more than 15,000 federal scientists, said in a statement released Wednesday.

While Canadians Obsess Over Pipelines, Domestic Solar Companies Make Major Investment Moves in India

This is a guest post by Sarah Petrevan, senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, a program of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue.

The big energy story this week in Canada is pipelines. Yet again. 

Why? There’s controversy, for starters, but it’s also the fact that energy exports — especially oil — make up a big chunk of Canada’s exports, and we’re an export-driven economy.

David Suzuki: Environmental Rights Are Human Rights

My grandparents came here from Japan at the beginning of the 20th century. Although it would be a one-way trip, the perilous journey across the Pacific was worth the risk. They left behind extreme poverty for a wealth of opportunity.

But Canada was different then, a racist country built on policies of colonization, assimilation and extermination of the land’s original peoples. My grandparents and Canadian-born parents, like indigenous people and others of “colour”, couldn’t vote, buy property in many places or enter most professions. During the Second World War, my parents, sisters and I were deprived of rights and property and incarcerated in the B.C. Interior, even though Canada was the only home we’d ever known.

A lot has changed since my grandparents arrived, and since I was born in 1936. Women were not considered “persons” with democratic rights until 1918. People of African or Asian descent, including those born and raised here, couldn’t vote until 1948, and indigenous people didn’t get to vote until 1960. Homosexuality was illegal until 1969!

In 1960, John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative government enacted Canada’s Bill of Rights, and in 1982, Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals brought us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with equality rights strengthened in 1985.

Canada Joins “High Ambition Coalition” To Push for Strong Climate Treaty in Paris

Canada joined a powerful new negotiating bloc of countries coordinating a push for a strong, legally binding climate agreement at the Paris COP21 negotiations.

This week Canada joined the High Ambition Coalition of both rich and poor countries after entering into dialogue with the EU to learn more about the initiative, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Caitlin McKenna’s office told DeSmog Canada.

The Coalition, which the Guardian first reported has been meeting in secret for six months, includes 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific as well as the EU and the U.S., which joined the group on Tuesday. News is just breaking that Brazil has also joined the illustrious group.

Within the negotiations the Coalition is calling for a clear long-term temperature goal in the Paris climate treaty, as well as strong review rules and a system for keeping track of how well nations are meeting their climate targets.

New Climate Performance Index Ranks Canada Among World’s Worst for Emissions and Lack of Climate Policy

Alberta oilsands

A new index of global emissions released Tuesday at the Paris climate talks finds Canada among the worst performing nations when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate policy.

Canada, taking sixth place, ranked only above Korea, Japan, Australia, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia in the 2016 Climate Change Performance Index.

Even though Canada’s position remains low, it represents a slight improvement from last year, when the country came in last out of 58 nations profiled in a 2014-2015 report.

This year’s index report notes a “slight positive trend can be seen in Canada, which improved its performance by two places.”

But report, produced every year for the last 11 years by Climate Action Network Europe and Germanwatch, attributes the majority of Canada’s improvement to the work of the provinces and acknowledges that no visible efforts to improve Canada’s climate standing have been made at the federal level in recent years.

The slight increase in Canada’s standing is due to early indication from the Liberal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada will be a more constructive player on the international climate stage.

Canada Pledges $150 Million of Climate Funds to African Renewable Energy Initiative

Canada will provide $150 million in support for renewable energy in Africa, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announced at a G7 African Renewable Energy Initiative session during the COP21 climate talks in Paris on Monday.

The pledge is part of the African Renewable Energy Initiative, an ambitious plan to bring 10 GW of renewable energy to the continent by 2020 and scale that up to 300 GW by 2030.

Here in the city of lights, it is impossible to accept the fact that millions of household in Africa are still in the dark,” McKenna said.

Africa is home to more than 640 million people without electricity and an additional 120 million that rely on firewood and charcoal for fuel. In sub-Saharan African two out of three people have no access to electricity.

However it is possible to change this,” McKenna said, adding renewable energy is not only efficient but can also reduce poverty.

What We Know About Canada's Position on the Six Most Hot Button Issues at the Paris Climate Talks

This weekend represents a major transition point in the COP21 Paris climate talks.

Negotiators who have been working away to shorten and clarify an international climate treaty will now pass on a draft text to ministers and their lead negotiators for an intense final week of high-level deliberations.

The nearly 200 countries involved in the talks hope to finalize a document by next Friday. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done.

The key issues for all parties include climate finance — how wealthy countries will help developing nations transition off of fossil fuels and adapt to climate impacts — as well as loss and damage (which includes the issue of insurance and compensation), human and indigenous rights and whether the global climate treaty will lock in a 1.5 or two degrees of warming target.

A final issue has to do with the legally binding nature of the climate treaty and how the progress of countries — whether or not they are sticking to their own commitments — is reviewed (this issue is generally called MVR: monitoring, verification and review).

So here’s a quick overview of what we know about Canada’s view on each of these hot button points.

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