Paris Agreement

The Carbon Offset Question: Will Canada Buy its Way to the Climate Finish Line?

Alberta oilsands, tar sands Kris Krug

On Dec. 9, after much deliberation and political theatre, the federal government, eight provinces and three territories signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba were notably absent from the list of signatories.

But also absent was an explanation of just how and how much Canada will rely on emissions trading  — technically known as internationally transferred mitigation outcomes — to meet its 2030 target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions down to 524 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, a reduction of 30 per cent compared to 2005 emission levels.

In its framework Canada vaguely pledged to “continue to explore which types of tools related to the acquisition of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes may be beneficial to Canada.”

Yet Canada may be eyeing the offset tool as a fundamental part of achieving emissions reductions, especially if global resource prices rebound and the oilsands expand to production levels allowable under newly approved pipelines.

Can Trudeau Possibly Square New Pipelines with the Paris Agreement?

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.

International Implications of Trudeau's Kinder Morgan Pipeline Approval

justin-trudeau-kinder-morgan-pipeline

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's decision this week to approve a major expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline has negative implications that go well beyond the borders of the Great White North.

Canada is currently the largest supplier of oil to the United States. We export more oil to the US than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico combined. We are a secure, stable and reliable trading partner with the US for a product that can make or break their economy.

Earth to America: Trump’s Not the Centre of the Universe (Or the Climate)

President-elect Donald Trump

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.

Alberta’s Carbon Tax Doesn’t Equal ‘Social Licence’ for New Pipelines, Critics Say

Implement an economy-wide carbon tax, attain “social licence,” score a federal approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

That’s been the advertised logic of the Alberta NDP since the introduction of its Climate Leadership Plan a year ago. Nearly every mention of carbon pricing and associated policies — a 100 megatonne oilsands cap, coal-fired power phase-out and methane reduction target — has been accompanied by a commitment to “improve opportunities to get our traditional energy products to new markets.”
 
Such a sentiment was reinforced with Premier Rachel Notley’s retort on Oct. 3 to the announcement of federally mandated carbon pricing: “Alberta will not be supporting this proposal absent serious concurrent progress on energy infrastructure.”

But for some, Tweet: #Alberta NDP’s rhetoric represents a fundamental misunderstanding of #sociallicence http://bit.ly/2fzLs7Y #ableg #bcpoli #cdnpolithe 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.

Why Trudeau’s Commitment to Harper’s Old Emissions Target Might Not Be Such Bad News After All

Catherine McKenna

On Sunday, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced that the federal government will stick with the previous government’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The news, delivered via an interview with CTV’s Evan Solomon, attracted a significant amount of criticism.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May described it as “nothing short of a disaster for the climate” and Press Progress suggested the news undermined election commitments and later statements by the Liberals.

Fair enough: McKenna had previously called the targets the “floor,” noting that “certainly we want to try to do better.” And in election materials, the Liberals stated: “We will work together to establish national emissions-reduction targets.”

Not exactly a broken promise, but some had hoped for more.

But here’s the thing: yes, the Liberals could have set a more ambitious target. And yes, to help keep global temperatures below two degrees of warming, they will need to in the future.

Tweet: So @JustinTrudeau’s using Harper’s old climate targets. But what matters is not setting a target, it’s meeting it http://bit.ly/2dkGU6LBut what matters is not setting a target — it’s meeting a target.

David Suzuki: Divest from Damage and Invest in a Healthier Future

If people keep rapidly extracting and burning fossil fuels, there’s no hope of meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement climate change commitments. To ensure a healthy, hopeful future for humanity, governments must stick to their pledge to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. Many experts agree that to meet that goal, up to 80 per cent of oil, coal and gas reserves must stay in the ground. That makes fossil fuels a bad investment — what analysts call “stranded assets.”

Putting money toward things that benefit humanity, whether investing in clean energy portfolios or implementing energy-saving measures in your home or business, is better for the planet and the bottom line than sinking it into outdated industries that endanger humanity.

Shocking Migratory Changes Bring Electric Rays to Canada’s Pacific

Gary Krause was mystified by an unusual fish he caught in his trawl net off B.C.’s Pacific north coast in October. It was a Pacific electric ray, named for a pair of organs behind its head that can knock a human adult down with a powerful shock.

Trawl fishery records show 88 of these rays in B.C. waters since 1996. Although an electric ray was first recorded off Vancouver Island’s west coast in 1928, nearly a quarter of the more recent sightings came from 2015 alone.

Fishermen like Krause, who worked an astounding 4,000 days at sea over the past 35 years, are often the first to observe the beginnings of fundamental ecosystem shifts. In 2008, he also identified the first ever brown booby, a tropical seabird, in Canada’s Pacific waters.

Why are creatures like electric rays, which prefer warmer southern California or Baja waters, turning up with greater frequency further north?

Why Should Canada's First Ministers Embrace the Clean Energy Economy? Because It's 2016

Solar panel installation

This is a guest post by Mitchell Beer, which originally appeared on GreenPAC.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial/territorial premiers meet in Vancouver on Thursday, they’ll be searching for agreement on the pan-Canadian climate framework that Trudeau promised to introduce within 90 days of the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris.

It’s a big enough, ambitious enough agenda. But the real question facing First Ministers, and the elephant in the room that will dominate their deliberations, is bigger still. It comes in two parts:

What kind of economy do we want for Canada in the 21st century? (Because it’s 2016!)

And however that’s answered, is the plan realistic against anything we know about the future shape of global energy use?

National Climate Framework At Centre of Federal-Provincial Meeting in Vancouver, March 3rd

After languishing in the darkness for ten years, a national climate policy in Canada could take shape during an anticipated first ministers meeting in Vancouver next month. The meeting fulfills a Liberal election promise “to establish a pan-Canadian framework for combating climate change” and meet with provincial ministers within 90 days of the UN COP21 climate negotiations in Paris. 
 
“If there ever was a time this could work it would be now,” Jennifer Allan, PhD candidate and researcher with International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), said. “Canadians are mobilized and there’s more momentum for change than there’s been in the recent past, if ever.”
 
“The federal government and the provinces are not going to be able to sneak anything weak — or failure — out the backdoor,” Allan told DeSmog Canada.
 
Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not officially announced the meeting to discuss a national climate plan with the premiers, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador published a media release earlier this week identifying March 3 as the date of the first ministers meeting to discuss a national climate change framework. 

Other sources confirmed the meeting will be held on March 3rd during the Globe Series, an international environmental business summit in Vancouver.

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