Compared to many other Senate confirmation hearings for potential Cabinet members, the hearing for U.S. Energy Secretary proved much faster and less rocky for nominee and...
Canada’s great, white north seems to be getting a little less white as the years go by thanks to above-average increases in Arctic temperatures and increasing levels of industrial development.
Still, the north remains great, and there’s nothing more emblematic of that greatness than the astounding 1,000-kilometre seasonal migration of the region’s barren-ground caribou herds.
Named for their habitat — sprawling Arctic tundra which extends beyond the northern tree line — barren-ground caribou have experienced alarming population declines for years, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and those declines are occurring alongside unprecedented levels of climate change and habitat disturbance.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned aggressively on the issue of science in the lead up to the last federal election. And it makes sense that he did: for the first time ever in Canadian history the issue of scientific integrity was a major election issue for voters across the nation.
Images of shuttered libraries, gagged scientists and dumpsters full of books haunted the Canadian imagination under the Harper government.
Trudeau promised to change all of that. Brandishing the language of the scientific community itself Trudeau painted a vision of a Canadian scientific renaissance, with the restoration of scientific integrity and the veritable holy grail of political vows: evidence-based decision-making.
“As a scientist, I was personally thrilled with the Liberal government’s vocal support for science, especially regarding the critical role that scientific evidence should play in informed decision-making,” Wendy Palen, associate professor and biologist at Simon Fraser University, told DeSmog Canada.
In the early days of the federal government under Trudeau, there were several events that shored up that sense of optimism including the anchoring of ministerial duties in science in open mandate letters and restored funding for research in the first Liberal budget.
Trudeau also promised to bring social and scientific credibility back to the environmental assessments of major resource projects.
“I think I can say the scientific community breathed a sigh of relief over the change in attitude around science and the role of scientific decision-making,” Palen said.
But, she added, that sentiment has stopped short in recent months.
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.
“Clean coal.” “Ethical oil.” How could fossil fuels that produce pollution which sickens, kills, and hospitalizes tens of thousands of Americans each year end up sounding so … desirable?
Jim Hoggan, founder of DeSmog, watched these industry-funded campaigns — and an increasingly toxic public discourse around climate change — unfold in the U.S. and Canada and wondered the same thing.
As Hoggan told an audience of earth and climate scientists at the American Geophysical Union conference today, “These campaigns are not so much about persuasion as they are about polarization, about dividing us.”
Canada’s federal scientists have won the right to speak freely about their research and science without upper level bureaucratic control, a feature central to restrictive communications protocols under the Harper government.
The move to officially unmuzzle scientists comes after the Professional Institute of Public Service Canada (PIPSC), Canada’s largest union federal employees including 15,000 scientists, researchers and engineers, negotiated to include scientists’ right to speak in a collective agreement deal.
“This is an enormous win not only for federal scientists but for all Canadians,” PIPSC President Debi Daviau said in a statement.
“Following the defeat last year of the Harper government, we vowed that no government should ever again silence science. This new provision will help ensure that remains the case now and in the future.”
By Matt Horne for the Pembina Institute.
With Canada’s first credible national climate change plan within reach, now is not the time to be watering down core policies that would help reduce emissions. That’s why the federal government should reject Premier Christy Clark’s posturing on carbon pricing and stick to the pan-Canadian carbon price committed to in October.
The Premier has been arguing that cap-and-trade systems to cut carbon pollution in Ontario and Quebec won’t be as stringent as B.C.’s carbon tax, and as a result that B.C. shouldn’t need to increase the carbon tax in line with Trudeau’s plan.
The federal government is expected to announce the details of Canada’s national climate plan Friday, Dec. 9 at a high-profile gathering of First Ministers in Ottawa.
The details of the climate plan, which amount to a balance sheet of the nation’s carbon emissions, are critical to evaluating the federal government’s recent decisions to approve major fossil fuel projects in light of Canada’s international climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.
“To have confidence in this plan’s ability we need to see credible accounting,” Catherine Abreu, executive direction of Climate Action Network Canada, said.
Trudeau has garnered significant criticism for his recent approvals of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and Enbridge Line 3 replacement, both of which invite increased production in the Alberta oilsands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Most Canadians weren’t surprised to hear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline this week.
Yet Trudeau’s announcement was so thoroughly cut through with political spin and misinformation some have described it as “Orwellian.”
So where did the Prime Minister rank highest on the spin-master index?
Here are our top five myth and misinformation moments from Trudeau’s Kinder Morgan announcement.