Merran Smith

Trudeau Just Approved a Giant Carbon Bomb in B.C.

Catherine McKenna and Christy Clark

The federal government has issued an approval for the $36-billion Pacific Northwest liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal on Lelu Island on the B.C. coast, undermining its commitments to take action on climate change.

Tuesday’s decision — announced an hour behind schedule in Richmond, B.C., by a trio of ministers including Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna — means it will be virtually impossible for B.C. to meet its climate targets.

The announcement was seen as the litmus test on whether the Liberals would live up to its climate promises.

With today’s decision on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, Minister McKenna made it much more difficult for Canada to meet its climate targets and signaled that it’s OK for provinces to miss their own emissions targets,” said Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute.

“If built, Pacific NorthWest LNG will be one of the largest carbon polluters in the country and a serious obstacle to Canada living up to its climate commitments.”

Pacific Northwest LNG — wholly owned by the Malaysian government and boasting a questionable human rights record — lobbied the federal government 22 times between February 1 and April 21 this year, including meetings with McKenna and her chief of staff Marlo Raynolds.

Has Clean Energy's Time Finally Come in Canada?

Solar panels

Federal and provincial climate policies unveiled over the last year are paving the way for Canada to massively increase the amount of energy the country gets from renewable sources, according to a new analysis released today by Clean Energy Canada.

For the first time the federal government and the provinces are working together to establish a national climate plan,” Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said. “A big piece of the puzzle is not just cleaning up the grid, but electrifying other parts of the economy reliant on fossil fuels.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is drafting a ‘pan-Canadian clean growth and climate change framework’ to be released this fall. Meantime, last year Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada’s main oil and gas producing provinces, set ambitious renewable energy targets. And Ontario recently announced one of the most cutting edge greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans in Canada to date.

All of that means things are finally looking up for clean energy in Canada. Federal and provincial politicians now need to make good on their climate pledges for the country to reap even bigger benefits from this $500 billion global industry.

Christy Clark’s Hand-Picked Climate Team Voices Frustration at B.C.’s Lack of Climate Leadership in Open Letter

Seven members of Christy Clark’s hand-picked, blue-ribbon Climate Leadership Team are going public with their disappointment in the province’s lack of climate action in an open letter released Monday.

Signatories include noted environmental leader Tzeporah Berman, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, Chief Ian Campbell, professor of oceanography at the University of Victoria, Tom Pederson, B.C. associate director of the Pembina Institute, Matt Horne, Cayoose Creek Band chief, Michelle Edwards, professor Nancy Olewiler and executive director of Clean Energy Canada, Merran Smith.

The letter, addressed to Clark, states B.C. is in no position to shrug off the 32 recommendations made by the team last November in advance of the UN Paris Climate Talks. At the talks, Clark used the Climate Leadership Team’s work to bolster the province’s environmental credibility.

But the team itself is saying the B.C. Liberals have failed to implement the recommendations made by the group of experts. B.C has consistently pushed back the release date of a provincial climate plan.

The province, once an international leader in carbon pricing, has stalled action on climate by imposing a restriction on carbon pricing, creating loopholes for large industrial emitters and agressively advancing the creation of an LNG export industry. Compared to provinces like Ontario, which just announced $7 billion in funding for an ambitious climate plan, and Alberta, which announced an ambitious plan to phase out all coal-fired power plants last fall, B.C. is quickly falling behind.

B.C., Canada’s Carbon Tax Champion, Criticized for Lack of Climate Leadership at COP21 in Paris

British Columbia has long been celebrated for implementing one of North America’s first — and the world’s most successful — carbon tax regimes.

Yet at the ongoing COP21 climate talks in Paris, Premier Christy Clark is getting a lot of flack for her province’s lack of climate leadership.

Clark’s efforts to develop a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry and her freezing of the province’s carbon tax in 2012 shows just how far B.C. is from being a climate leader, according to Torrance Coste, member of the Canadian Youth Delegation attending the climate summit.

Last week a panel of industry and environmental experts appointed by Clark to review the province’s climate action found B.C. will not meet its own target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions one third by 2020.

I’m fairly disappointed with what [Christy Clark] is bring forward as part of B.C.’s new climate leadership model,” Coste said. “It’s not building enough on what we’ve done in the past.”

Job Growth in Canada's Booming Clean Energy Sector Outpaced Every Other Sector in 2013: Report

A new report from Clean Energy Canada finds that in 2014, the value of clean energy projects approached $11 billion, an increase of 88 per cent from 2013.

Here’s a good news story on the clean energy front—investment is pouring in, and employers are hiring,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada. “Canadians are concerned that we’ve put too many eggs in the oil and gas basket, and the clean energy sector can help round out the Canadian economy.”

In 2013, the most recent year for which reliable data exists, Canada’s clean energy industries were together responsible for 26,900 direct jobs — up 14 per cent over the previous year, a rate of growth that outpaced every other sector in the country.

The report, Tracking the Energy Revolution — Canada 2015, contrasts Ottawa’s current “missing in action” approach with the strong leadership of the U.S. government, and highlights how Canada’s next federal government could help boost clean energy investment.

Here’s Why Canada Needs Federal Carbon Pricing Leadership

Despite the federal Conservative government’s seven-year attack on carbon pricing as a “job-killing carbon tax,” Canada is actually making progress provincially on pricing carbon pollution.

Without any direction from the federal government, Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and recently Ontario have all introduced systems that require polluters to pay for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they produce (as we’ve pointed out elsewhere in this series, those systems have had varying success).

But without an overarching carbon pricing system there is only so much the provinces can accomplish. 

There’s nothing stopping the federal government from attempting to help provinces and territories strengthen and expand their existing GHG programs,” Katie Sullivan, North America policy and climate finance director at the International Emissions Trading Association, said.

Ottawa could provide model rules, methodologies, guidance, tools and centralized infrastructure and architecture for a variety of program elements,” she said. “The federal government could play a valuable ‘enabling’ role.”

Clean Energy Provided More Jobs Last Year Than Oilsands: Report

Tracking the Energy Revolution

Canada’s rapidly developing green energy industry has seen investments of more than $24 billion in the past five years while employment in the sector increased by 37 per cent during the same period, according to a report released Tuesday by Clean Energy Canada.

According to the report, impressive growth in the emerging sector has been achieved despite frustratingly inadequate federal support on things such as tax incentives and research promotion.

Surging employment growth last year in the clean energy sector — encompassing manufacturing, power production, energy efficiency and biofuels — accounted for more direct Canadian jobs than in the oilsands, the report added.

Report: Renewables Break into Mainstream Energy Market

Clean Energy Canada, renewable energy

Renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies are now a successful mainstream business with investors spending $207 USD billion in the sector last year, according to a report released Monday by Clean Energy Canada.

The report — Tracking the Energy Revolution — also said that carbon-based fuels would remain an important part of the global energy system for decades but added that “for the first time in more than a century, multiple signs suggest that their dominance is beginning to wane.”

Global fossil-fuel power generation investment last year totalled $270 billion, the report said, only $63 billion more than for clean energy investments.

It is clear that falling equipment costs, strong investor interest, and government and business leadership are driving a global clean energy revolution, the 18-page report added.

When it comes to addressing climate disruption, the countries that succeed on the world stage are those taking action at home,” Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada, said in an accompanying media release.

New Report Says Kitimat Airshed Can "Accommodate" Increased Industrial Pollutants

kitimat airshed, pollution

The Kitimat airshed can “accommodate” increased industrial growth and pollution according to a new Kitimat Airshed Study released Friday.

The study, commissioned by British Columbia last year to assess the impact of industrial pollutants on the Kitimat airshed, was released one month after lawyers representing Kitimat locals asked the Environmental Appeal Board to force the province to make the report public.

The province previously claimed cabinet privilege and refused to release the report to two women, Emily Toews and Elisabeth Stannus, who are fighting to overturn a 2013 ruling to allow increased sulphur dioxide emissions from Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter ‘modernization project’ in Kitimat.

The government-funded report concludes the Kitimat airshed, if properly managed, can safely accommodate industrial expansion, including the expanded aluminum smelter expected to increase levels of sulphur and nitrogen oxide in the area.

The study took into account Rio Tinto Alcan’s existing smelter, the smelter’s modernization project, four proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities, one proposed oil refinery, a potential BC Hydro gas powered turbine facility and increased emissions from tanker traffic.

Environment Minister Mary Polak, attending a press conference in Vancouver today, said “the study tells us that with proper management there is significant capacity in the Kitimat airshed to safely accommodate industrial growth, while still protecting human health and the environment.”

B.C. Business Community Slams 'Astronomical' Cost of Building Site C Dam

Major industrial power users in British Columbia fear that if the proposed Site C dam becomes a reality, rate hikes could put mills and mines out of business while saddling taxpayers with a costly white elephant and ballooning BC Hydro debt.

A decision on the $7.9 billion plan to build a third hydroelectric dam on the Peace River will be made by the federal and provincial governments this fall.

Economic questions about the mega-project were raised by last month’s joint review panel report, which noted the dam would likely be “the largest provincial public expenditure of the next 20 years.”

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