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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
Figures in a B.C. greenhouse gas inventory released quietly before Christmas show emissions have risen for four of the last five years.
Previously the province released a full public report on emissions, including inventory methodology, every two years but in December the government released a excel spreadsheet simply listing emissions figures for the second year in a row. The spreadsheet was published without any formal announcement or news release.
By law the province is required to reduce emissions 80 per cent from 2007 levels by 2050. In 2008 the province created a benchmark within that reduction, committing to get to 33 per cent reductions by 2020.
But the new figures show B.C. is not on course to meet that 2020 target. Instead emissions are only 2.1 per cent lower than the baseline year of 2007 and are on the rise.
A new poll on Canadian attitudes on climate change reveals some pretty stunning numbers about public desire for politicians to act.
The poll by Abacus Data found 85 per cent of Canadians are convinced the consequences of not taking action on climate change will result in “catastrophic,” “very severe” or “severe” consequences to wildlife and animal habitats, agriculture and farming, coastal cities and towns and human health and safety.
“There’s a new normal in Canada on the issue of climate change,” said Abacus chairman Bruce Anderson. “Half of voters won’t consider politicians who don’t take the issue seriously – and most other voters also believe action is needed and inaction will result in catastrophe.”
The poll was conducted via an online survey of 1,534 Canadians, resulting in a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
It’s been a busy year of municipalities suing fossil fuel companies.
In July, three Californian communities filed a lawsuit against 37 oil and gas companies for their contribution to climate change. Only two months later, San Francisco and Oakland launched their own against five majors, including Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell. A handful of Vancouver Island municipalities have also sent letters to 20 oil and gas companies demanding compensation for climate damages.
Could car companies be next?
The battle against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline could lead to the next Standing Rock and destroy any investment case for the project, according to a newly released report.
The report, commissioned by the Secwepemc nation and prepared by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, is titled “Standing Rock of the North: The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Secwepemc Risk Assessment.”
Over the course of 35 pages, it articulates seven ways that Kinder Morgan Canada has failed “to account for the lack of political, legal, and proprietary certainty surrounding the pipeline.”
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada announced today it will no longer be proceeding with its proposed Energy East Pipeline and Eastern Mainline projects.
“After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications,” said president and CEO Russ Girling in a statement released Thursday morning.
The $15.7 billion Energy East pipeline planned to transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from western Canada’s oilsands to refineries in Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as an export terminal in New Brunswick.
For years, Nexen's Aurora project envisioned transforming Digby island near Prince Rupert into a sprawling $20 billion LNG plant shipping 24 million tonnes of liquified B.C. natural gas to Asia.
On September 14, Aurora officially backed out, reinforcing the words written in this year’s NDP election platform. “[Ex-premier Christy Clark] bet everything on natural gas prices and left the rest of B.C.’s economy without support,” it reads.
“Resource communities and families have paid the price. That’s got to change.”
But change to what? With the rise of B.C.’s new NDP government, forged with the support of the B.C. Greens under climate scientist Andrew Weaver, there is now an opportunity to reset and find more realistic ways to tap the wealth of natural gas in the Peace region.
“The idea that there is going to be a big mega project like Petronas [Pacific NorthWest LNG] was nothing but a pipe dream,” says Andrew Weaver. “The real question is, what are we going to do with the resource?”
As the leadership contest for Alberta’s newly formed United Conservative Party heats up, it’s no surprise pipeline politics are front and centre.
As four major oilsands pipeline projects from Alberta sit abandoned, stalled or awaiting review, one contender is proposing to beat the pipeline gridlock through an entirely new route.
It wouldn’t be through the west or east coast but through the Arctic — namely Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world, nestled in Hudson Bay.
With devastating hurricanes hitting the Caribbean islands and southern United States, massive wildfires displacing thousands in northern Manitoba and British Columbia and catastrophic flooding in India and Bangladesh killing more than 1,200 people, many Canadians are understandably anxious about what’s to come.
Climate scientists have long warned that the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme weather events will be greatly exacerbated in coming years and decades.
Yet Canada, which warmed at about twice the global average between 1948 and 2007, is still almost entirely unprepared for the impacts of those events, according to experts.
Documents released on Monday reveal that B.C.’s climate plan under the previous Liberal government was drafted by the oil and gas industry in a Calgary boardroom, just as the province’s new NDP government moves to ban corporate and union donations to B.C. political parties.
The documents speak to long-standing concerns over the influence of political donations in B.C.’s political process. B.C. has long been considered the ‘wild west’ of political cash for placing no limits on corporate, union or foreign donations.
“I think this is deeply corrosive to our democracy and it encourages cynicism about politics,” Max Cameron, political science professor and director of the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia, told DeSmog Canada.
By Maximilian Kniewasser and Stephen Hui.
Under Premier John Horgan and the NDP, British Columbia’s government is no longer promoting liquefied natural gas exports as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to snag 100,000 jobs, a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, and more than $1 trillion in economic activity. Nevertheless, proposed LNG development remains a thorny issue to be tackled by the new provincial government.
This week, the Pembina Institute and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions published Liquefied Natural Gas, Carbon Pollution, and British Columbia in 2017, an update on the state of the B.C. LNG industry in the context of climate change.
Here are three highlights from our report.