What if We Could Map All the Fossil Fuel Corporate Powers in Canada? These Researchers Are Trying

We’ve all seen a chart like it: logos of corporations connected by thin lines to other logos, linking dozens of subsidiaries to spin-offs of even larger companies.

But such diagrams — whether they attempt to illustrate the concentration of media ownership or linking music record companies to arms manufacturers — rarely involve Canada or the fossil fuel companies that dominate lobbying and other political efforts.

The Corporate Mapping Project, co-directed by Shannon Daub of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and William Carroll of the University of Victoria, aims to remedy that.

We need to have a conversation about how these forms of concentrated power can be problematic for democratic processes in terms of decision-making and the citizenry collectively determining its future,” says Carroll, sociology professor at the University of Victoria.

To the extent that you have very strong concentrations of corporate power in key sectors of the economy, it limits the boundaries of permissible discourse: what can be said, what can be discussed openly.”

Divestment Insufficient Without Government-Sponsored Emissions Reductions, Says New Report

Ditching fossil fuel stocks and replacing them with green energy investments will have little effect on greenhouse gas emissions until there are government and institutional policy changes, according to a new report.

The white paper, written by two University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers working with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, finds that even if divestment campaigns - now being waged at more than 30 Canadian universities - are successful, there will be minimal impact on emissions, partially because governments, rather than shareholder companies, control the vast majority of the world’s oil reserves. If conventional energy companies were serious about avoiding surpassing the 2 degrees Celsius temperature limit recommended by scientists and policy makers, that would require “deep structural changes,” the authors, Hadi Dowlatabadi and Justin Ritchie, argue.

However, the good news for those fighting for divestment, is that, with the right policies in place, divestment could speed up the change to a low carbon economy and change social norms when it comes to investing, the researchers concluded.

160 Faculty Members Join Call for Fossil Fuel Divestment at B.C.’s University of Victoria

University of Victoria

Professors at the University of Victoria (UVic) are demanding the school’s administration freeze all new investment in fossil fuels and initiate a three-year divestment of all fossil fuel holdings.

The university endowment fund has approximately $21 million currently invested in fossil fuels.

In an open letter addressed to Lisa Hill, Chair of the University of Victoria Foundation and copied to university president Jamie Cassels, faculty members voiced concerns over the ethical and financial viability of fossil fuel investments, noting “the growing North American movement, led by students, to see their universities act as moral leaders for their communities by disinvesting from such companies.” The full list of signatories can be seen here.

Kelsey Mech, Divest UVic student organizer and chair of the UVic student society, said such strong faculty support for the campaign comes as a surprise. “I am floored. I am so blown away,” she told DeSmog Canada.

Our goal was to have 100 faculty sign on by April 30th. We just blew that target out of the water as we are already at 160, representing just shy of 20 per cent of faculty,” she said. Nearly 2000 UVic students have signed a petition in support of the divestment campaign.

27 B.C. Climate Experts Rejected From Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Hearings

Kinder Morgan trans mountain Pipeline

This week a group of climate experts published a letter detailing the climate impacts of the proposed tripling of the Trans Mountain pipeline which carries oilsands diluted bitumen and other fuels from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. The group represents 27 climate experts – a mix of economists, scientists and political and social scientists – from major British Columbian universities who were recently rejected from the pipeline hearing process because they proposed to discuss the project’s significance for global climate change.

According to Simon Donner, associate professor from the University of British Columbia and climate variability expert, “the government is ignoring the expertise of not just scientists, but policy analysts and economists.”

You'd have an easier time finding a seat at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals than an expert who thinks the energy policy is consistent with Canada meeting this government's own promised emissions target,” he told DeSmog Canada.

For Donner, the exclusion of climate experts from National Energy Board (NEB) pipeline hearings throws the legitimacy of the environmental assessment process into question.

The NEB and the federal government want to make a decision about the environmental and social impact of the pipeline expansion without considering one of the biggest long-term threats to the environment and society – climate change,” he said.

Caribou, Humpbacks May Legally Stand in Way of Northern Gateway Pipeline, According to B.C. Nature Lawsuit

humpback whale

Not even a month has passed since the federally appointed Joint Review Panel (JRP) released its official report recommending approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, pending the fulfillment of 209 conditions. Yet already two separate suits have been filed against the integrity of the report, with groups requesting cabinet delay a final decision on the pipeline project until the federal court of appeals can assess the complaints.

One of the suits, filed today by the Environmental Law Centre on behalf of B.C. Nature (the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists), requested the panel’s report be declared invalid and that cabinet halt its decision on the pipeline project until the court challenge is heard. The second suit, filed by Ecojustice on behalf of several environmental groups claims the panel's report is based on insufficient evidence and therefore fails to constitute a full environmental assessment under the law.

Chris Tollefson, B.C. Nature’s lawyer and executive director of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, says “we have asked that the federal court make an order that no further steps be taken by any federal regulator or by Cabinet until this request is adjudicated.”

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