(Image credit: 10 10 on Flickr)
The issue of how to deal with climate change in Canada is a controversial one, with various levels of government — municipal, provincial and federal — all taking different approaches to tackling this important issue.
Up until the election of the new Trudeau federal government in October 2015, Canada had been roundly criticized both domestically and internationally for its lack of action on climate change.
While progress was stymied at the federal level, there has been progress over the last few years at the provincial government level, namely in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, which have both committed to a cap-and-trade system.
Up until recently, British Columbia was heralded as a leader on climate change, introducing the first carbon tax in the world in 2008. A study by researchers at the University of Ottawa found that the B.C. carbon tax had reduced fossil fuel use in the province by 19 per cent since its inception, when compared to the rest of the country.
However, in 2013 the B.C. government froze planned increases in the carbon tax, calling into question the government's commitment to climate action. The B.C. government now says it plans to keep the freeze on the carbon tax until at least 2018.
Climate change and environmental protection remain hot topics in Canada, with polls for many years consistently showing these issues as top-of-mind. DeSmog Canada reports regularly on the issue of climate change in Canada and we index all of that news in the section that follows below.
DeSmog Canada's latest news coverage on Climate Change in Canada
The federal government recently created two marine protected areas in the Pacific region and has committed to increase ocean protection from one per cent to 10 by 2020. But will this be enough?
Canada has the longest coastline of any nation, but our country doesn’t end at its ocean shores. With a 200-nautical-mile economic zone and international obligations, Canada is responsible for almost three million square kilometres of ocean, an area roughly the size of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined.
Although that’s a big area, thinking of the ocean in square kilometres is just skimming the surface. The ocean isn’t just a cold, wet seascape blanketed by howling winds. Below the surface, life thrives throughout the water column, top to bottom, warm or cold, winter or summer.
Want to modernize Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB)?
Bring the regulatory agency — first founded way back in 1959 when the realities of climate change weren’t readily known — into alignment with our carbon-constrained present.
That recommendation, coming from the Pembina Institute, comes in a report released Friday to coincide with the end of a federal review of the National Energy Board that brought an expert panel into halls and meeting rooms of 10 cities across the nation.
In the report, “Good Governance in the Era of Low Carbon,” the Pembina Institute states the review is an important opportunity to not only bring the mandate of the NEB into the 21st century, but also to restore public trust in what many see as a broken process.
The National Energy Board has been called a “captured regulator” that has “lost touch with what it means to protect the public interest,” by Marc Eliesen, former head of BC Hydro and former deputy minister of energy in Ontario and Manitoba.
The last few months have been marked by some massive shifts in the oilsands.
In December, there was the $830 million Statoil sale to Athabasca Oil, followed in January and February by the writing down of billions of barrels of reserves by Imperial Oil, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
On March 9, Shell sold a majority of its oilsands assets to Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) in a huge $7.25 billion sale, while Marathon Oil split its Canadian subsidiary between Shell and CNRL for a total of $2.5 billion.
The question is: why are all of these companies selling their oilsands assets? While some celebrate the moves as successes for the climate movement, others blame the Alberta NDP for the exodus of internationals.
But experts say the reality has more to do with a broader economic shift that’s made oilsands uneconomical — for the time being at least.
A little known federal plan to adopt a clean fuel standard could cut Canada’s emissions by as much as Ontario’s coal phase-out (North America’s single largest emissions reduction initiative) — if done right.
The clean fuel standard, announced last November, will require fuel suppliers to decrease the carbon footprint of the fuels they sell in Canada.
But unlike similar regulations in British Columbia and California, which target transportation fuels only, the federal government is considering using the clean fuel standard to also target emissions from fuels used in buildings and industrial processes, such as heating oil and petroleum coke.
“Gas, solids, liquids, whatever. If it is a fossil fuel, it is going to be subject to this standard,” Clare Demerse, policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada, told DeSmog Canada. “That is a really … powerful signal. All fossil fuels in Canada have to improve their carbon performance.”
By Benjamin Israël for the Pembina Institute.
In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced its intention to phase out coal as a source of power. Since then, many voices have misrepresented or questioned the impact that coal emissions have on Canadians’ health and our environment.
In order to clear the air, we’ve answered four of the biggest questions being asked about the link between an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power and human health.
For years, B.C. Premier Christy Clark has been under immense pressure to deliver on the liquefied natural gas (LNG) promises that formed the backbone of her 2013 election campaign.
Back then, the Liberals predicted LNG could create almost 40,000 construction jobs in BC, 75,000 full-time jobs once in operation, and much more.
“It's no fantasy,” read the Liberal platform of 2013. “We can create $1 trillion in economic activity and create the BC Prosperity Fund with $100 billion over 30 years.”
But four years later, the opportunity to cash in on LNG exports to Asia has dissolved, while the $100 million currently sitting in the Prosperity Fund has been drawn not from natural gas, but from sources like the premiums for the BC Medical Services Plan.
Almost a full decade since first applying for a presidential permit, TransCanada looks set to finally receive go-ahead in the U.S. for its massive $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline.
But here’s the thing: U.S. approval, while a great leap forward for TransCanada, doesn’t guarantee the Keystone XL pipeline will ever be built.
U.S. President Donald Trump was elected with the explicit promise to get the 830,000 barrel per day pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska built, under the conditions that the U.S. would receive a “big, big chunk of the profits, or even ownership rights” and it would be built with American steel; his administration has already flip-flopped on the latter pledge.
*Update: On March 24, 2017, Trump granted Trans Canada the presidential permit required to build Keystone XL, saying: “It’s going to be an incredible pipeline, the greatest technology known to man, or woman.”
So is Keystone XL going to be built? Not so fast. Here are three key reasons why it may never become a reality.
There’s just no way around it: building codes are deeply boring documents.
The most recent National Building Code of Canada clocks in at 1,400 jargon-filled pages.
Despite being a snore fest, it’s on its way to becoming an incredibly important tool in preparing new buildings for the worst impacts of escalating climate change and extreme weather events, such as flooding, hail and rain.
That’s thanks to a brand-new $40 million federal government investment in the National Research Council, which is responsible for updating the building code every five years; the last one was released in 2015, meaning the next version will be released in 2020.
“It’s the first time that the government has talked about building code and climate change in one breath,” says Glenn McGillivray, managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. “It’s very important.”
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Canada’s largest oil and gas lobbyist group, asked the federal government to introduce a carbon pricing scheme that would “recycle” revenues back into oil and gas operations, documents released via Freedom of Information legislation reveal.
The documents, released to Greenpeace Canada, contain an August 2016 submission CAPP provided to the federal government in which the group argues a price on carbon should be revenue neutral for industry.
“One of the decisions governments need to make is what to do with the revenue generated from the carbon pricing mechanism,” the document reads. “There are many options available to enable innovation for distribution of this generated revenue; CAPP recommends that to enable innovation, revenue generated by industrial emitters is best recycled back to industry for technology and innovation.”
Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist for Greenpeace Canada, says, “The oil industry formally supports action on climate change (in exchange for pipeline approvals) but wants to shape how the policy is implemented so as to minimize the impact on its own operations.”
As snowcover recedes from the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska each spring, thousands of Porcupine Caribou arrive to graze on new plant growth and calve the next generation of this herd that is the ecological and cultural backbone of the region.
Following ancient trails through the Brooks, Ogilvie and Richardson mountain ranges on both sides of the Alaska/Yukon border, the herd's migratory path to this sanctuary is one of the longest of any land mammal.