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.
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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
On Nov. 29, the federal government granted conditional approvals for the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project.
If built, the two pipelines will add just over one million barrels per day of export capacity from Alberta’s oilsands. Expectedly, many Canadians cried climate foul.
And, equally as predictably, there’s been a litany of arguments criticizing people for protesting the approvals.
Justin Trudeau announced the approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline Tuesday, saying the project is integral to meeting Canada’s climate commitments.
“Today’s decision is an integral part of our plan to uphold the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions while creating jobs and protecting the environment,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will twin an existing pipeline running from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. increasing transport capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000 barrels per day. Trudeau also approved an application to increase capacity of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline from 390,000 to 915,000 barrels per day.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the two pipelines combined represent an increase of 23 to 28 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent released into the atmosphere.
Under the Paris Agreement Canada pledged to reduce emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada’s current policies aren’t expected to meet those targets. According to a recent analysis by Climate Action Network, Canada is expected to miss those targets by 91 megatonnes.
Trans Mountain and Line 3 put Canada at a further disadvantage when it comes to meeting those targets.
The B.C. government has refused to exercise its authority to order a provincial environmental assessment of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project, instead opting to rely on a report produced by the federal National Energy Board (NEB) that recommended approval of the project.
This means the province’s decision on the project — which would triple the amount of oil shipped through Vancouver — will be made using a Harper-era assessment heavily criticized for having no cross-examination of evidence and failing to assess cumulative effects, marine oil spills and greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is a government that say they’re standing up for British Columbians and when they had a chance legally to protect British Columbians with a made-in-B.C. environmental assessment they passed the buck, accepted Stephen Harper’s process and let down British Columbians,” said George Heyman, the NDP’s environment critic.
The federal government has to decide whether to approve the project by Dec. 19 — but the province also has to make its own decision on whether to grant an environmental assessment certificate.
The UN climate talks seemed to grind to slow motion this week with the much-hyped, much-anticipated arrival of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry arrived late for his scheduled talk, striding in with that celebrity dignitary air, surrounded by a posse of private security guards and long-lens photographers. An inexplicable apocalyptic plume of black smoke rose from the Marrakechi cityscape behind him.
“If you were to get lost in the bush, I could find you.”
It’s an oddly placed sentiment in the city heat of Marrakech, Morocco, yet an entirely appropriate one for an indigenous panel at the UN climate talks hosted by Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.
Francois Paulette, revered Canadian indigenous leader and elder from the Dene Nation, told an international crowd of delegates, campaigners and press that back in Canada, his place is in the wild.
It is there Paulette learned from his elders the meaning of sin: “The biggest sin a man can make is to abuse the earth.”
“And now that’s why we’re in the place we’re in and why there is global warming.”
Although Paulette said he is not one for the city — he’d rather be on a riverbank back home in the Northwest Territories — he’s no stranger to international diplomacy. At his sixth UN climate summit, Paulette is more determined than ever to ensure indigenous perspectives and rights are central to international climate plans.
By all appearances Canada seems determined to do the same.
Last year the Canadian government enjoyed a positive reception at the UN climate talks in Paris. After 10 years of climate inaction under a Conservative government, the international community anticipated the new Liberal government would mean good things for the nation’s climate governance.
But Canada’s contribution to the world’s first climate treaty remains “inadequate” according to a new report released by the Carbon Action Tracker in light of the climate talks.
The Paris Agreement, designed to limit global warming to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible, was signed in France last year and ratified, with incredible speed, less than one year later on November 4. Although a proud signatory of the agreement, Canada will not meet its climate targets, according to the new analysis.
Fallout from environmental assessments or development decisions that don’t meet the highest scientific standards will land on the shoulders of the younger generation, which is why Canada’s lack of scientific rigour and transparency must be addressed now, say more than 1,300 young scientists who have written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and six cabinet ministers.
“As the next generation of scientists in Canada, we are professionally and personally affected by how government evaluates the pros and cons of development, especially large-scale infrastructure and energy projects,” said lead author Aerin Jacob, a University of Victoria postdoctoral fellow who specializes in tradeoffs between conservation planning and sustainable development.
“Reviews based on limited or biased scientific information potentially put the environment and the well-being of Canadians at risk,” she said.
I was in my last year of high school when U.S. President George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq. Driven by grief and a sense of helplessness (I couldn’t even vote, let alone in America) I did the only thing I could: I joined protest marches. During that spring in 2003, I watched the crowds grow beyond anything I’ve seen before or since in Vancouver: 10,000 at a rally in January, then 40,000 in February as millions of people across the globe cried out for the President to stop.
It wasn’t enough. The war went ahead, and the whole world is still suffering the consequences. But the outpouring from Canadians was enough to cement the Chretien government’s position against the invasion, despite support from the Canadian Alliance party, led by Stephen Harper. The Alliance subsequently lost the 2004 election.
By Andrew Nikiforuk for The Tyee.
Every day, methane promoters in British Columbia’s government manage to out-trump Donald Trump.
The hoopla over the $1.6-billion Woodfibre LNG terminal, which will industrialize Howe Sound and the city of Squamish,
illustrates just how far the Christy Clark-led BC Liberal government will go to subvert the truth.
The government billed the event as maker of economic prosperity and the beginning of a winning fight against climate change.
Both claims read like Trump balderdash with no basis in reality.
Implement an economy-wide carbon tax, attain “social licence,” score a federal approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.
But for some, the Alberta NDP’s rhetoric represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the point of social licence, with the government assuming that moderate emissions reduction policies allows it to ignore serious concerns about Indigenous rights and international climate commitments.