Carol Linnitt

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Carol Linnitt is Managing Editor and Director of Research for DeSmog Canada. Carol is a writer and researcher focusing on energy development, environmental policy and wildlife. She joined DeSmog in June 2010 as a researcher, focusing much of her time on the natural gas industry and hydraulic fracturing.

Carol is the lead author of DeSmog's original report Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Our Water, Health & Climate. Her work also led to the DeSmog micro-documentary CRY WOLF: An Unethical Oil Story and the Cry Wolf investigative series.

Carol began her environmental career writing and performing interviews for The Canada Expedition, a non-governmental sustainability initiative, and while working in dispute resolution with communities affected by resource scarcity.

Carol has a Master's in English Literature from York University where she studied political theory, natural resource conflicts and Aboriginal rights. She also has a Master's in Philosophy in the field of phenomenology and environmental ethics and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria in the English and Cultural, Social and Political Thought programs.

Trudeau Instructs Minister of National Revenue to Free Charities from Political Harassment

Environmental and left-leaning charities can breath a sigh of relief now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has instructed Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier to modernize Canada’s archaic charity law and clarify rules around allowable “political activity.”

The ministry should “allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment,” Trudeau wrote in a ministerial mandate letter Friday, “with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy.”

The new mandate signals a remarkable change in tone from the at times aggressive stance of the former government.

In 2012 the Harper government allocated $13.4 million to the Canada Revenue Agency for the audit of charities to determine if groups were in violation of rules that limit their spending on “political activity” to 10 per cent of resources. The program also instituted new reporting for charities receiving foreign funding.

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Review to Continue Under Flawed Review Process, According to Natural Resources Minister

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told reporters Wednesday that ongoing oil pipeline reviews will continue on as usual, despite a promise by the Liberal government to make the environmental assessment process more robust.

They have not stopped,” Carr said. “The process continues.”

Ongoing National Energy Board reviews will continue for projects like the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion even though the Liberal party platform promised an immediate review of the process, saying the renewed assessments will “restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments” and “restore lost protections” resulting from weakened environmental laws under the Stephen Harper government.

Minister Carr indicated the National Energy Board review process will undergo a transition but until that time, project reviews will remain unchanged.

There will be a transition as we amend the ways in which the National Energy Board goes about the process of evaluating these projects,” Minister Carr said, “and we will announce those changes as soon as we can, but the process continues.”

The announcement has some wondering what to make of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assertion that a more robust process would apply to the to Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

In August, Dogwood Initiative’s Energy and Democracy Director Kai Nagata pressed Trudeau to confirm if an NEB overhaul would apply to the Kinder Morgan project.

Yes. Yes,” Trudeau said. “It applies to existing projects, existing pipelines as well.”

Canada’s Implementation of UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights Raises Questions About Oilsands, Resource Extraction

After years of refusal by the Conservative government, Canada is preparing to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) — a decision that could herald the beginning of a new era in relations between First Nations and the federal government.

In a mandate letter addressed to Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requested the minister “renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.”

The first item on Bennett’s long list of to-dos is to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting first with the implementation of the UN declaration.

Implementing the declaration is a big deal for Canada, one of only four countries to not only abstain from voting on the declaration, but to actually vote against it. (The other three are the U.S., which has signaled its intention to revise its position, and New Zealand and Australia, both of which reversed their positions in 2009.)

The declaration, first adopted by the UN in 2007 after 25 years of consultation and deliberation, is meant to “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.”

Canada Subsidizes the Fossil Fuel Industry by $2.7 Billion Every Year. Where Does That Money Go?

Canada’s fossil fuel industries are the recipients of $2.7 billion US ($3.6 billion CDN)  in handouts each year, despite a promise from all G20 nations, including Canada, to eliminate subsidies in 2009.

About $1.6 billion US of those subsidies came from the federal government with the rest distributed by the provinces, according to a new report from Oil Change International.

The report finds G20 countries spend about $452 billion US each year to prop up their oil, gas and coal industries.

The Liberals promised to “fulfill Canada’s G20 commitment to phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry,” in their election platform. The party singled out the Canadian Exploration Expenses tax deduction as too generous to industry, saying the tax break should only kick in if companies are completely unsuccessful in their resource exploration.

The saving will be redirected to investments in new and clean technologies,” the party platform says.

But the Canadian Exploration Expenses tax deduction isn’t the only place where companies can take advantage of a generous subsidy system.

So were else is the money coming from and going to?

Fossil Fuel Industry’s Bad Behaviour in Spotlight During Run-up to Paris Climate Negotiations

As leaders from around the world head to Paris in December for the COP21 UN climate negotiations, they do so with the burdensome knowledge that this is it: the big year. More than 190 nations will try to reach an internationally binding climate agreement to prevent the globe from warming to catastrophic levels.

Such high stakes haven’t pressed upon the negotiations since 2009’s Copenhagen climate summit, widely regarded as a failure after wearied countries fled the conference without producing a strong international agreement.

Perhaps that’s why this year there is little patience for the influence peddling of the world’s major fossil fuel companies, all of which are eager to play a role in the conversation.

Nearly 400,000 people have signed a petition to bar “big polluters” from the talks.

The petition, organized by Corporate Accountability International, argues the summit should be protected from corporate interests and becoming a platform for companies intending to “block progress, push false solutions and continue the disastrous status quo.”

The petition is just one of a number of public efforts designed to showcase the negative influence of industry groups on climate talks, their historic bad behaviour and a growing international impatience for meaningful climate action.

Canada's New Climate Change Minister 'Excited' To Tackle Emissions. Is this For Real?!

It’s already big news that Canada now has a Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.

But it might be even more newsworthy that McKenna is promising that Canada will be a constructive player at the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris next month.

After years of international scrutiny for playing an obstructive role in international climate negotiations and a former environment minister who performed awkward linguistic gymnastics to avoid using the words “climate change,” McKenna’s enthusiasm signals a new era for Canada’s role on the global climate stage.  

Speaking outside Parliament Wednesday after her first day in office, McKenna said she is “really excited” to get down to work on Canada’s climate file.

It’s going to be a lot of hard work. This is a really important file. It’s a really important file to Canadians — both the environment but also tackling climate change. We need to be ambitious and I’m ready to work hard and get down to action,” McKenna told the CBC. “This is why I got into politics: to make a difference. I have three kids and this portfolio could not be more important to their future.”

The Liberals Just Restored Canada’s Long-Form Census. Here’s Why That Matters

Canada’s new Minister of Innovation, Science and Development, Navdeep Bains, told reporters on Parliament Hill on Thursday that the federal government is restoring the mandatory long-form census just in time for its next rollout in 2016.

Canada conducts a census every five years by sending an eight-question form to Canadian households. However, one-fifth of those households traditionally received a mandatory 61-question census that provides the government with much more insight into the lives of Canadians.

In 2010, the Harper government cancelled the mandatory long-form census, replacing it with a short voluntary survey developed by Statistics Canada. Researchers said the data provided through the voluntary survey lacked detail, leaving major gaps in knowledge about areas with poor survey response rates.

Munir Sheikh, the former head of Statistics Canada, resigned in protest.

Bains said the decision to reinstate the long-form census falls into the government’s commitment to rebuild scientific knowledge in Canada.

Our plan for an open and fair government starts with the reinstatement of the mandatory long form census,” Bains tweeted.

Dear Minister of Science: Here’s What Canada Needs to Get Back on Track

Today is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first day in office and when it comes to science, his new cabinet appointees look like a step in the right direction.

On top of naming Catherine McKenna the first ever Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Trudeau also appointed a Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, as well as a Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains.

Duncan has a doctoral degree in geography, previously taught meterology, climatology and climate change at the University of Windsor and was a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

These appointments combined with Trudeau’s point blank response to questions about his 50 per cent female cabinet mandate (“Because it’s 2015”), his inclusion of indigenous leaders and his collaborative approach to the upcoming Paris climate talks have inspired a lot of hope in the new Prime Minister.

But with an abundance of commitments about science, electoral reform and transparency some Canadian scientists are left wondering if Trudeau will be able to live up to the promises.

Minister Duncan, we've done some of the intelligence gathering for you and here's what Canadian scientists say they hope to see from the new government.

Oil and Gas Industry Publicly Supports Climate Action While Secretly Subverting Process, New Analysis Shows

A new report recently released by InfluenceMap shows a number of oil and gas companies publicly throwing their support behind climate initiatives are simultaneously obstructing those same efforts through lobbying activities.

The report, Big Oil and the Obstruction of Climate Regulations, comes on the heels of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a list of climate measures released by the CEOs of 10 major oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, Statoil and Total.

According to InfluenceMap the initiative is an attempt by leading energy companies to “improve their image in the face of longstanding criticism of their business practices ahead of UN COP 21 climate talks in Paris.”

The big European companies behind the OGCI…will come under ever greater scrutiny, as the distance between the companies’ professed positions and the realities of the lobbying actions of their trade bodies grows ever starker,” InfluenceMap stated in a press release.

Cutting Carbon Could Create Nearly 1 Million Jobs in B.C. by 2050: New Analysis

British Columbia has been praised the world over for its wildly successful carbon tax which, according to polls, the majority of British Columbians actually like paying.

Now a new analysis shows that B.C.’s efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions is compatible with growing jobs and a strong economy in coming decades.

The report by Clean Energy Canada shows that while pursuing strong climate policies the province could add 270,000 new jobs to the market by 2025 and possibly triple that figure to 900,000 by 2050.

The analysis, conducted by Navius Research, also found the economy would enjoy steady growth, about two per cent per year, at the same time as bringing new opportunities to sectors and communities across the province.

We hear a lot of fear mongering claims that climate action is going to hurt our economy. But this research shows the opposite,” Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, said. “We found that B.C. can cut carbon pollution — and still create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across all sectors and see the same level of economic growth we would otherwise. That’s a big win for British Columbians, for businesses, and for our climate.”

In other words, climate leadership pays off,” Smith said.