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Peace River Break a Critical Conservation Corridor in Rare Intact Mountain Ecosystem

By Tim Burkhart, former researcher with the Cohen Commission and Peace River Break Coordinator with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
 
On a clear day after the thaw, I climb a meandering hiking trail through thick forest, crossing springs swollen with alpine melt, and scramble up rocky slopes to a wind-swept vista of alpine tundra at the weather-beaten peak of Mount Bickford, about 40 minutes west of the small industry town of Chetwynd, B.C.
 
From this lofty vantage point above the Pine Pass, the crucial east-west length of Highway 97 is visible, connecting northeast B.C. with the rest of the province west of the Rockies.
 
Standing beside the dark waters of a mountain lake, still fringed with snow, I can gaze out upon an uninterrupted view of one of the most important landscapes in British Columbia.

New 'Meta' Study Confirms Consensus: 97% of Publishing Climate Scientists Agree We are Causing Global Warming

By John Cook, The University of Queensland

When we published a paper in 2013 finding 97% scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, what surprised me was how surprised everyone was.

Ours wasn’t the first study to find such a scientific consensus. Nor was it the second. Nor were we the last.

Nevertheless, no-one I spoke to was aware of the existing research into such a consensus. Rather, the public thought there was a 50:50 debate among scientists on the basic question of whether human activity was causing global warming.

Burning Fossil Fuels is Responsible for Most Sea-Level Rise Since 1970

By Aimée Slangen, Utrecht University and John Church, CSIRO

Global average sea level has risen by about 17 cm between 1900 and 2005. This is a much faster rate than in the previous 3,000 years.

The sea level changes for several reasons, including rising temperatures as fossil fuel burning increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In a warming climate, the seas are expected to rise at faster rates, increasing the risk of flooding along our coasts. But until now we didn’t know what fraction of the rise was the result of human activities.

In research published in Nature Climate Change, we show for the first time that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the majority of sea level rise since the late 20th century.

As the amount of greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere continues to increase, we need to understand how sea level responds. This knowledge can be used to help predict future sea level changes.

Fact Check: Outlook for Coal Not Quite What it Used to Be

Coal pollution in China

This is a guest post by Benjamin Thibault and Andrew Read of the Pembina Institute

Coal Association of Canada (CAC) president, Robin Campbell is currently touring Alberta with a series of “ACT information meetings.” He is making a number of assertions about the province’s coal industry and Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. We feel that some of the points being raised by Campbell need to be addressed. This is the second blog post to address those claims and to reiterate the importance of Alberta’s pledge to phase out coal power pollution.
 
As our first fact check showed, the CAC has been disseminating some misinformation on coal’s contribution to air pollution in Alberta. Another bucket of inaccuracies centres around the long-term future of coal — both locally and internationally — and the potential for coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) in particular.

Fact Checking the Coal Industry’s 'Information Meetings' in Alberta

This is a guest post by Benjamin Thibault and Andrew Read of the Pembina Institute

These are not good days for the global coal industry. There is bad news at every turn, with countless reports of “sputtering” and even falling demand.

Alberta has been a bastion for coal use in Canada. For now, the province burns more coal for electricity than all other provinces combined. But the writing has been on the wall for some time; over the long run, dirty coal-fired electricity is not compatible with credible climate change reduction strategies or with the public demand for cleaner air. These are the realities behind the province’s commitment to improve Alberta’s air quality and climate reputation by phasing out coal power pollution by 2030.

It is within this context that the Coal Association of Canada (CAC) is touring Alberta with “ACT information meetings.” But the “information” simply does not reflect coal’s stark modern reality. Let’s do some fact checking.

Four Reasons for Optimism On Vancouver Climate Declaration

Prime minister Justin Trudeau

This is a guest post by Clare Demerse of Clean Energy Canada.

Canada’s premiers and prime minister headed home from Vancouver last week having launched a brand-new climate change negotiation process. Set against a backdrop of clean tech power brokers and pipeline skirmishes, the lead-up to last week’s meeting generated headlines mainly for the faultlines it brought to the surface.

No doubt about it: Tough conversations are coming, especially about the best way to price carbon pollution. But as the hot rhetoric cools down, here are four reasons for optimism based on the results of last week’s First Ministers’ meeting.

Why Should Canada's First Ministers Embrace the Clean Energy Economy? Because It's 2016

Solar panel installation

This is a guest post by Mitchell Beer, which originally appeared on GreenPAC.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial/territorial premiers meet in Vancouver on Thursday, they’ll be searching for agreement on the pan-Canadian climate framework that Trudeau promised to introduce within 90 days of the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris.

It’s a big enough, ambitious enough agenda. But the real question facing First Ministers, and the elephant in the room that will dominate their deliberations, is bigger still. It comes in two parts:

What kind of economy do we want for Canada in the 21st century? (Because it’s 2016!)

And however that’s answered, is the plan realistic against anything we know about the future shape of global energy use?

Will Cap-And-Trade Slow Climate Change?

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

The principle that polluters should pay for the waste they create has led many experts to urge governments to put a price on carbon emissions. One method is the sometimes controversial cap-and-trade. Quebec, California and the European Union have already adopted cap-and-trade, and Ontario will join Quebec and California’s system in January 2017. But is it a good way to address climate change?

Saudi Arabia Simply Sees the Carbon Bubble for What it is

This is a guest piece by James Rowe, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and a member of the Corporate Mapping Project, a research alliance investigating the power of the fossil fuel industry in Western Canada. This piece originally appeared on openDemocracy.

The world’s largest producers of oil, Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed to a production freeze in February 2016. This deal holds production at the near-record highs that were reached in January in an effort to stop the plunge in world oil prices. But even if other key producers like Iran and Iraq agree, it won’t address the supply glut that has been driving prices into the ground.
 
Saudi Arabia could be doing more to orchestrate a production cut, and the Saudis would certainly benefit from a price bounce—the Kingdom ran a budget deficit last year of nearly US$98 billion. So why is the House of Saud content to keep the world swimming in cheap oil?
 
The motivation for Saudi Arabia’s passive response to the price crunch is the source of much speculation, but the consensus is that the Saudis are working to protect market share—primarily by driving high cost ‘unconventional’ production like US shale oil out of the market. There is a larger force, however, that has not received enough attention in efforts to divine Saudi intentions: the ‘carbon bubble.’

Four Ways Christy Clark Could Make B.C. Climate Leadership Plan Credible

This is a guest post by Josha MacNab from the Pembina Institute

Premier Christy Clark has a message for British Columbians: “To grow and diversify our economy, we must have the courage to say yes.” Perhaps she should take her own advice.

We know that we need to say yes to an economy that will thrive in a low-carbon future and one that does not lock us into fossil-fuel infrastructure that will become obsolete. We need to say yes to investing in industries that will position B.C. to take advantage of growing demand for clean technology and services. We need to say yes to implementing solutions that ensure we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.

Unfortunately, this week's budget announcement wasn't an example of that kind of “yes” thinking. Instead, it was just the latest in a string of missed opportunities for this government to demonstrate that it is making the connection between our economic prospects and addressing climate change.

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