Kevin Grandia

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Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog and DeSmog Canada.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

Trudeau Can't Have His Climate Plan and Build a Pipeline Too

So far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a lot of the right moves when it comes to climate change, but a new report this week makes it clear that Canada's PM cannot lead on climate change and support the expansion of oilsands pipelines at the same time.

Yet, there was a rumor circling earlier this month that the Trudeau government would approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in the name of the “national interest”. If approved, the pipeline will increase the amount of oil produced and shipped to Vancouver's coast for export by a whopping 590,000 barrels a day — nearly triple what is currently transported.

At the same time, the Trudeau government is expected to roll out a plan this fall to fulfill its election promise to take “bold action” on climate change.  

These two positions are irreconcilable. 

Climate Refugees? We Don't Have a Plan for That

justin-trudeau-climate-refugees

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintains relatively high popularity numbers here in Canada, they pale in comparison to the borderline rock star status the Canadian Prime Minister currently has on the international stage. Most recently, he was in New York to address the United Nations’ General Assembly and attend the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants.

It’s the first-ever summit of its kind because there hasn't been a refugee crisis like this in our lifetimes — or in the UN’s lifetime. You’ve heard the facts by now. Right now, more than 65 million people have been forced from their homes. That’s more than at any other time since the end of the Second World War. And there’s no end in sight.

In his speech at the summit on Monday, Trudeau took a bow for Canada’s efforts to take in refugees. Yet when the applause died down, he emphasized how that isn’t enough.

I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that Canada’s engagement must not stop at resettlement,” the Prime Minister said. “Now is the time for each of us to consider what more we can contribute. So, in Canada, we’re looking at our options.”

So what are those options? How can we address the forces that are driving people from their homes in the first place?

Canadian Taxpayers Fork Out $3.3 Billion Every Year to Super Profitable Oil Companies

Some of the largest, most profitable companies in Canada are collectively receiving an estimated $3.3 billion in subsidies every year from Canadian taxpayers, according to a new analysis.

The report, released today by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian-based think tank, outlines how billions in federal and provincial tax breaks and corporate incentives benefit companies in the oil and gas sector like Imperial Oil, whose earnings in 2015 were CDN$1.1 billion.

The new analysis comes as Trudeau is in China for the G20 Summit. In 2009 G20 leaders committed to a complete phase out of all fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term and Justin Trudeau, while on the campaign trail, made an election promise to fulfill that commitment.  

Tweet: Fossil fuel subsidies work against Canada’s progress in putting a price on carbon http://bit.ly/2bMVAII @JustinTrudeau #cdnpoli #oilandgasFossil fuel subsidies work against Canada’s commendable progress in putting a price on carbon — they give money and tax breaks to the sources of carbon pollution that we’re trying to scale back,” Amin Asadollahi, North American Lead on Climate Change Mitigation at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, said.

A Mythbusting Guide to the Paris Climate Agreement

Climate Nexus has published a helpful mythbusting page correcting the misinformation that is already being spread about the Paris Climate Agreement. It is rewritten here with permission.

Myths and Facts about COP21, the Paris Climate Agreement

MYTH: “Paris is not legally binding; it won’t change anything. China and India will still emit so much CO2 as to make all US reductions pointless.”

FACT: Paris does have legally binding aspects, and other nations are already taking action.

Agreement in Paris Paves Road For The End of Fossil Fuels

paris climate conference cop21

History was made tonight in Paris as the leaders of 195 nations agreed to an ambitious, science-based pact to move the world away from the fossil fuels that are to blame for the rapid increase in global temperatures.

After two weeks of negotiations here in the airport hangars of Le Bourget, 195 parties have signed a global pact that will curb global warming pollution and rapidly escalate the growth of the clean energy solutions the world needs.

The consensus here is that the Paris deal on the table is a good one. Could it be better? Of course. But this deal is about as good as it is going to get from a consensus process involving 195 countries.

A Primer on Trudeau's $2.65 Billion Green Climate Fund Announcement

Earlier today at a meeting of Commonwealth nations in Malta, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that his government would increase its Green Climate Fund commitment to $2.65 billion.

Here's a quick rundown what that actually means.

The Green Climate Fund was set up as part of the United Nations climate negotiation process, with a goal of raising $100 billion from both the public and private sector by 2020. The wealthiest countries at the negotiating table have been under pressure to contribute more money to the Green Climate Fund. 

The idea behind the Green Climate Fund is to overcome a major sticking point in the UN climate treaty process, which is that developing nations are being asked to invest in renewable energy technology and take measures to reduce the impacts of climate change, but do not have nearly the money needed to do so. 

How We Can Pop Ottawa's Lobby Bubble

“The lobbyist” and “the lobby” are terms we often hear in political discourse and in the media.

I don't know how many times I have listened to, or been involved in, a conversation around a hot-button issue that has ended in something like: “Well, it all doesn't really matter because the lobbyists will just end up getting what they want anyways.”

This floating, nondescript spectre of “The Lobbyist” has served the lobby industry well, because the last thing a lobbyist wants is to have their name public. Better to remain an unknowable entity than, as Donald Rumsfeld put it, be a “known-known.”

But once you realize a lobbyist is just another person out there in the world trying to make a paycheck, the abstract idea of lobbying becomes more understandable and relatable. 

It also becomes much more easy to keep in check.

Take for instance this lobbyist for TransCanada pipelines, Phil von Finckenstein of PVF Consulting

Beware the Lobby Bubble, Mr. Trudeau

In Ottawa there has always been a level of disconnect between the issues that really matter to Canadians and the issues that seem important to Canadian politicians working on Parliament Hill.  

In the United States this phenomenon is called “beltway politics” where the issues being debated by politicians within the boundaries of Highway 495, which forms a beltway around Washington, D.C., have relatively little importance to anybody outside the beltway.

Spend too long in the beltway and strange things can happen. For instance, a president can speak passionately on the issue of climate change, but hem and haw over whether to approve an oil pipeline that will lock in massive amounts of new greenhouse gas emissions. 

Nobody knows more about this inside political game than the lobbyists. Lobbyists are the people paid by corporations, and to a much lesser extent non-profit organizations, to ensure government policies and decisions by politicians are of the most benefit to those paying them. Lobbyists (at least the good ones) know that their most powerful strategy is to control the flow of information politicians receive on important issues. 

If you control the information, you control the questions that are raised and debated and ultimately you have good odds of controlling the final outcome.

Conservative Party Candidate Says Oil is Natural, Spills Just Absorbed by Land

Sabrina Zuniga, the Conservative party candidate running in the riding of Spadina-Fort York in Ontario, was caught on tape claiming that “oil is a natural substance… so spilling into the environment, the land will absorb it because that's what oil is.”

Zuniga's riding is in close proximity to the route of the Enbridge Line 9B pipeline, which may soon be carrying diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands through the Greater Toronto Area.

Canada Election 2015: Where do the Parties Stand on Climate Change?

Canada Federal Election Climate Change

With only a couple of weeks left in the Canadian federal election, voters are starting to ask fundamental questions about where the major parties stand on important issues like climate change. Canadians already rank climate and environment as a top issue both during and between election cycles. 

But with both the federal election on the horizon and international climate talks scheduled in Paris for late November, Canadians have a real opportunity for their votes to translate into substantial climate action on the global stage. 

Pressure is mounting for Canada to play a leadership role at these negotiations, with major trading partners like China and the United States already jointly announcing their emission reduction goals and commitments in advance of the talks.  

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