canada

Five Surprisingly Good Things That Happened in Canada in 2016

The election of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named south of the border is leaving many Canadians with a case of the climate doldrums as 2016 winds to a close — but here’s the thing: 2016 was actually the most promising year Canada has had on climate action in more than a decade.

To be sure, us Canucks have had some not-awesome news on the climate and energy front lately, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the enormously polluting Pacific Northwest LNG terminal near Prince Rupert, B.C., Enbridge’s Line 3 from Alberta to Wisconsin and the hotly contested Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline to Vancouver.

Many had higher hopes of climate leadership from Trudeau and they’re not wrong to be disappointed. However, as this year comes to a close, it’s also worth looking back on some of the significant steps forward that were made in 2016 — victories that in many cases were unimaginable even two years ago.

Trudeau Promised To Bring Us Out of Canada’s Anti-Science Era, But We’re Not There Yet

The Harper years were characterized by a sustained war on science, as documented by science librarian John Dupuis and Calgary writer Chris Turner, among others.

So when Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority government in last fall’s federal election, some commentators suggested that Canadians weren’t necessarily drawn to the Liberal platform, but were so fed up with the Conservative government that they voted for “anyone but Harper.”

The Harper legacy that Trudeau inherited was a troubling one.

It included muzzling of government scientists and cuts to key government-based science-related positions and programs such as the National Science Advisor and the Advisory Council on Science and Technology — to name just a few.

Canada’s Trudeau Plans to Work with Trump Admin to Approve Keystone XL, Pump Exxon-owned Tar Sands into U.S.

Tar sands Mildred Lake plant

At a speech given to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he intends to work with President-elect Donald Trump to approve the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. 

The speech comes as Trump revealed in a recent interview with Fox News that one of the first things he intends to do in office is grant permits for both Keystone XL and the perhaps equally controversial Dakota Access pipeline. Because Keystone XL North crosses the U.S.-Canada border, current processes require it to obtain a presidential permit from the U.S. Department of State, which the Obama administration has denied.

The next State Department, however, could be led by the recently retired CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, who was just nominated to be U.S. Secretary of State and soon will face a Senate hearing and vote. Potentially complicating this situation is the fact that Exxon holds substantial interest in both tar sands projects and companies, which stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline bringing this carbon-intensive crude oil across the border.

Open Science: Can Canada Turn the Tide on Transparency in Decision-Making?

It describes a framework but could just as easily be read as a request: open science.

And it’s something top of mind for Canadian scientists right now as the federal government is considering changes to the very way science is used to make major decisions about things like pipelines, oil and gas development and mines.

The ongoing federal review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is a huge opportunity to restore scientific integrity to decision-making, scientist Aerin Jacob told DeSmog Canada.

I really can’t underscore how big an opportunity this is,” Jacob, Liber Ero postdoctoral scholar at the University of Victoria, said, adding Canada could transform the very way science feeds into the environmental assessment and decision-making process.

One of the challenges being a scientist in wanting to evaluate government’s decisions is that we can’t see the evidence. We can’t see how decisions are being made.”

Tweet: “It’s like a black box of decision-making. That’s not scientifically rigorous.” http://bit.ly/2igQ9TQ #cdnpoli #environmental #assessmentsIt’s like a black box of decision-making. That’s not scientifically rigorous.”

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.

Canada Isn't Immune to Trump-ism

By Sarah Boon from Watershed Moments.

In the days following the U.S. election, two former Canadian ambassadors to the U.S. had some advice for Canadians worried about the future of Canada-U.S. relations.

Calm down,” they said. “Change the channel and watch some hockey.”

This paternalistic statement not only played on the worn cultural stereotype that all Canadians like hockey, Tweet: Nope, sorry. A ‘head in the sand,’ ‘everything will be fine’ mentality is NOT a good way to deal with Trump, Canada http://bit.ly/2gwbt7Ebut it suggested that a ‘head in the sand,’ ‘everything will be fine’ mentality was a good way to deal with Trump.

In truth, Canadians have every reason to worry.

Vast Majority of Canada Has Now Agreed to Put a Price on Carbon

In case you missed it, Tweet: 93% of Canadians live in provinces & territories that have/will implement #carbonpricing http://bit.ly/2grqxq2 #cdnpoli93 per cent of Canadians now live in provinces and territories that have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, carbon pricing. The most recent step forward occurred last week in Nova Scotia.

Amid the excitement around Canada’s accelerated coal phase-out, Premier Stephen McNeil announced that his government will implement a cap-and-trade system in 2018.

This commitment puts another province in line with the federal government’s plan to price carbon pollution.

Canada Fought to Include Indigenous Rights in the Paris Agreement, But Will Those Rights Be Protected Back Home?

First Nations chiefs

If you were to get lost in the bush, I could find you.”

It’s an oddly placed sentiment in the city heat of Marrakech, Morocco, yet an entirely appropriate one for an indigenous panel at the UN climate talks hosted by Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.

Francois Paulette, revered Canadian indigenous leader and elder from the Dene Nation, told an international crowd of delegates, campaigners and press that back in Canada, his place is in the wild.

It is there Paulette learned from his elders the meaning of sin: “The biggest sin a man can make is to abuse the earth.”

And now that’s why we’re in the place we’re in and why there is global warming.”

Although Paulette said he is not one for the city — he’d rather be on a riverbank back home in the Northwest Territories — he’s no stranger to international diplomacy. At his sixth UN climate summit, Paulette is more determined than ever to ensure indigenous perspectives and rights are central to international climate plans.

By all appearances Canada seems determined to do the same.

Ian Gill: Fearless Journalism Essential to Democracy

Canada’s media industries are in a tailspin. As many as 10,000 journalists have lost their jobs in the past decade and newsroom closures or contractions are an almost weekly fact of life across the country. In a new book, No News Is Bad News: Canada’s Media Collapse — And What Comes Next, veteran reporter Ian Gill chronicles a decline that is bad for democracy. Then again, the collapse of mainstream media is making room for new, mostly online journalism to flourish. Gill generously counts DeSmog Canada among the bright lights of Canada’s new journalism. Here are a few telling excerpts from his book:

Journalists aren’t easy to love. They are less trusted than police, schools, banks, and the justice system, and only marginally more trusted than federal Parliament and corporations. But what journalists do is important, and it isn’t just the business of rooting out liars, holding policy-makers accountable, probing the public accounts, championing the underdogs, or hounding the overlords. It is all of those things, but it is more importantly the practice of using stories as a way to help people make sense of their world…

UN Environment Boss Tells Canada's Fossil Fuel Leaders to 'Embrace the Change'

By Mike De Souza for the National Observer.

Erik Solheim doesn’t mince his words when it comes to industry giants that fail to embrace change in the global economy.

Solheim, a former Norwegian cabinet minister, is the new top boss of the United Nations Environment Programme. Speaking at an early-morning breakfast with a mixed crowd of environmental stakeholders, policy experts and media in Ottawa, he said that Canada’s fossil fuel companies need to take stock of what’s happening before it’s too late for them.

Many of you will remember Kodak,” Solheim said at the event hosted by the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development. “They didn't believe in digital photography. Where is Kodak now? In industrial museums somewhere.”

Pages

Subscribe to canada