climate change

Justin Trudeau May Look Pretty in a Kayak, But He’s No Climate Saint

Justin Trudeau kayak

Last week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to capture international headlines for a kayak outing on the Niagara River in Ontario.

How, you may ask? Well Trudeau paddled up to a family’s dock and had a brief conversation with them about water levels. According to Elle Magazine, he looked “picture perfect” while doing it. It all very quickly became a Twitter sensation.

Trudeau’s photogenic boat trip coincided with World Environment Day and in a speech afterward, the prime minister vowed to continue to fight climate change.

The American press, still bewildered by their president’s widely criticized decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, went wild.

No, Asian Markets Will Not Fetch Better Prices for Canadian Oil: New Report

CCPA Trans Mountain pipeline tidewater access myth

One of Ottawa and Alberta’s main arguments in defence of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline — that Alberta oil sold to Asian markets will command a higher price — is a myth, according to a new report released Wednesday by scientist and energy resources expert David Hughes.

Contrary to the common claim, Hughes’ research, conducted on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute, found “a ‘tidewater premium’ does not exist.”

My research shows that Canada’s oil is not being unfairly discounted by the U.S.,” Hughes said.

Oil prices internationally and in North America are now nearly identical. That means Canadian crude producers are likely to receive lower prices overseas than in the U.S. because of the higher transportation costs involved in transporting bitumen by pipeline to B.C.’s coast and then exporting it by tanker.”

10 Potential Game-Changers in B.C.’s NDP-Green Agreement

John Horgan Andrew Weaver NDP-Green Agreement

After three weeks of nail-biting, British Columbians finally have a clearer sense of what’s in store for the province as the NDP and Greens released their cooperation agreement today.

The 10-page agreement establishes the basis for the Greens to “provide confidence” in an NDP government. Translation: the agreement lays out what the NDP agreed to in return for the Greens guaranteeing to support NDP budgets and confidence motions.

And boy oh boy, is there ever a lot of gold in this document. Here are 10 of the biggest potential game changers on the energy and environment file.

Business Not As Usual: What Kinder Morgan Isn’t Telling Investors

kinder morgan IPO climate change

Kinder Morgan is providing potential investors with shoddy information, according to a complaint filed with the Alberta Securities Commission by Greenpeace Canada last week.

The formal complaint contends the company’s draft prospectus — a legal document prepared for investors ahead of its massive $1.75 initial public offering (IPO) — failed to properly disclose future Asian oil demand and the financial impacts of climate policy.

It turns out that Kinder Morgan used demand forecasts that assume “business as usual” for oil consumption, which effectively means no serious attempt to keep global warming below two degree celsius.

Famous Canadian Ice Road Melts for the Last Time

Northwest Territories Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Ice Road, Matt Jacques|DeSmog Canada

Each winter in Canada’s far north, a series of ice roads take form, providing people and supply trucks temporary access to the region’s otherwise isolated towns. But rapid changes to Canada’s north means this spring marks the final melt of one of the north’s famed ice highways, the ‘Road to the Top of the World,’ stretching across 187 kilometres of frozen Mackenzie Delta and Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories, linking Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk.

It’s taking longer for everything to freeze up, and the ice isn’t as thick,” Wally Schumann, the minister of infrastructure for the Northwest Territories, told the New York Times in April. The Northwest Territories is warming at four to five times the global rate.

Under construction right now is a new permanent $300-million all-weather road — but its long-term stability is also challenged by the unpredictable, warming landscape says Phil Marsh, professor and Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science at Wilfred Laurier University.

This area is continuous permafrost with massive amounts of ground ice,” Marsh explained.

In the spring, melting water can carve sizeable channels through the ground ice, “which can rapidly drain a lake in less than twenty four hours.”

Will a Repackaged National Energy Board Be Able to Meet Canada’s 21st Century Challenges?

Idle No More, Zack Embree

By Chris Tollefson, Executive Director Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation.

Early on in its remarkably candid treatise released today, the Expert Panel tasked with advising the Trudeau government on how to modernize the National Energy Board (NEB) observes that the issue it was asked to grapple with “is much larger than simply the performance of the NEB in and of itself”: read the panel report here.

Indeed.

Since the 2013 Northern Gateway pipeline hearings, our national energy regulator has been buffeted by one controversy after another.  The NEB must bear some of the blame for this.  Its work on the Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan and Energy East files underscore that its expertise does not lie in the realm of environmental assessment.  But it is also a victim of history — an institution conceived and born in an era (almost 60 years ago) long before Indigenous rights, climate change and decarbonization had political, let alone legal, salience.

Six Troubling Subsidies That Support B.C.’s LNG Industry

By Maximilian Kniewasser, Pembina Institute.

Four years ago, the government of British Columbia bet big on the prospect of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports creating overseas markets for the province’s shale and tight gas resources.

LNG development would deliver 100,000 jobs, a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, and over $1 trillion in economic activity, British Columbians were told. Since then, however, the economics of LNG have shifted, and the predicted LNG boom has yet to materialize.

In order to attract LNG investment, the provincial government has provided myriad incentives, exemptions, and direct transfers to the natural gas industry. Financial incentives that shield the emissions-intensive industry from current and potential future increases in carbon costs are of particular concern to the Pembina Institute.

For one thing, these measures lessen the incentive to reduce carbon pollution — as the world increasingly demands that polluters pay for their emissions. Furthermore, such incentives use scarce public dollars to support the fossil fuel sector at a time when government should be removing barriers to clean innovation and investing in green jobs.

Here is an overview of six carbon-related incentives that benefit LNG projects and the natural gas industry in B.C.

5 Reasons to Give a Shit About the B.C. Election

Provincial politics. There, I said them — two of the most boring words in the English language.

There’s no denying it. Provincial elections fail to capture the imaginations of citizens the way national or even international elections do.

Case in point: in the last B.C. provincial election, just 55 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot — 13 per cent fewer than voted in the last federal election.

Fact Checking Christy Clark’s LNG Claims

Christy Clark LNG

For years, the B.C. government has touted the benefits of developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry — and while some of those benefits may be legit, one of them almost certainly isn’t.

That’s the claim that exporting natural gas from B.C. will somehow result in emissions reductions in China.

Let’s back up for a second.

Exporting LNG involves first fracking for gas in B.C.’s northeast, a process which causes earthquakes, uses epic amounts of fresh water and leaks the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere at a rate 2.5 times higher than what the B.C. government has been admitting.

It’s Official: Coal Just Became Uneconomic in Canada

Coal power plant

Marijuana wasn’t the only green thing being celebrated on April 20.

In a somewhat unexpected move, the Calgary-based electricity company TransAlta announced it will accelerate the phase-out of eight coal-fired power units — representing almost 3,000 megawatts of generating capacity — with six of those to be converted to gas-fired generation between 2021 and 2023.

The remaining two will be closed on Jan. 1, 2018.

It makes complete economic sense that they did that,” says Binnu Jeyakumar, electricity program director at the Pembina Institute, pointing to expiring power purchase agreements (PPAs) and an increasing inability for coal to compete with natural gas and renewables.

While calculations vary, it’s estimated that the conversion of the six coal plants to simple cycle gas operations — a process that will cost around $300 million in total — will cut emissions by between 30 and 40 per cent per megawatt hour of electricity produced.

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