Derek Leahy

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Derek was born and raised in Brooklin and now lives in Ottawa. He worked in Germany for eight years as a historical tour guide. He attended the Copenhagen UN Climate Conference in 2009. Aware that countries are failing to take action on climate change, Derek launched International Stop the Tar Sands Day in Berlin. This voluntary educational event emphasizes creativity and public participation and has spread to more than 50 cities on four continents. Derek is a freelance writer and volunteers his time helping communities become aware of Line 9 and Energy East.

Federal Clean Fuel Plan Could Slash Transport Emissions

Electric car charging station

A little known federal plan to adopt a clean fuel standard could cut Canada’s emissions by as much as Ontario’s coal phase-out (North America’s single largest emissions reduction initiative) — if done right.

The clean fuel standard, announced last November, will require fuel suppliers to decrease the carbon footprint of the fuels they sell in Canada.

But unlike similar regulations in British Columbia and California, which target transportation fuels only, the federal government is considering using the clean fuel standard to also target emissions from fuels used in buildings and industrial processes, such as heating oil and petroleum coke.

Gas, solids, liquids, whatever. If it is a fossil fuel, it is going to be subject to this standard,” Clare Demerse, policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada, told DeSmog Canada. “That is a really … powerful signal. All fossil fuels in Canada have to improve their carbon performance.”

Canada Can Make Huge Climate Gains by Cleaning Up Transportation Sector: Experts

Two weeks before the premiers met in Ottawa to finalize the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, the federal government unveiled plans for a national clean fuel standard. If adopted, the measure could drive down greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector, Canada’s second biggest contributor to climate change.

One of the root issues around our climate problem is the fuel that we use to heat our homes and move our cars and so I think this is an excellent first step,” Dianne Zimmerman, director of Pembina Institute’s transportation and urban solutions program, said.

The other piece of the puzzle is ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support alternative forms of fuel.”

In all provinces and territories, transportation ranks among the top emitters. Despite advances in vehicle fuel efficiency, emissions from transportation have barely moved up or down from 171 megatonnes annually or 23 per cent of Canada’s overall carbon footprint since 2005.

Has Clean Energy's Time Finally Come in Canada?

Solar panels

Federal and provincial climate policies unveiled over the last year are paving the way for Canada to massively increase the amount of energy the country gets from renewable sources, according to a new analysis released today by Clean Energy Canada.

For the first time the federal government and the provinces are working together to establish a national climate plan,” Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said. “A big piece of the puzzle is not just cleaning up the grid, but electrifying other parts of the economy reliant on fossil fuels.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is drafting a ‘pan-Canadian clean growth and climate change framework’ to be released this fall. Meantime, last year Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada’s main oil and gas producing provinces, set ambitious renewable energy targets. And Ontario recently announced one of the most cutting edge greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plans in Canada to date.

All of that means things are finally looking up for clean energy in Canada. Federal and provincial politicians now need to make good on their climate pledges for the country to reap even bigger benefits from this $500 billion global industry.

The Maritimes: Canada’s Secret Trailblazer in Wind Energy

You probably wouldn't guess it, but Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia are unsung heroes in Canadian wind energy — producing more than 10 per cent of their electricity needs from wind, more than any other provinces.

Some electricity utility companies in Canada will tell you all you’ll ever get from wind is 10 per cent of your electrical needs,” Carl Brothers, an engineer and wind energy consultant, said. “In PEI, we are closing in on 30 per cent.”

By comparison, Ontario, Canada’s biggest wind power producer, manages to meet about four per cent of its domestic demand through wind energy.

The shift to renewable energy in Nova Scotia and PEI in the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable.  At the turn of the 21st century, both provinces were dependent on coal and oil-fired power plants for nearly all of their electricity. Neither province possesses the massive waterpower resources Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia rely on to produce renewable electricity.

Regulations, Not Carbon Pricing, Are Key to Reducing Emissions, Expert Says

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna earlier this month said the federal government does not have a preferred carbon pricing system. Whether the provinces and territories go with cap and trade or a carbon tax, McKenna simply wants to see Canada produce less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“I just care about how do we reduce emissions at the end of the day,” McKenna said during a panel discussion on Canadian climate action in Ottawa. “That is the most important piece.”

Unlike the previous federal government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has made putting a price on carbon pollution a priority. A recent meeting between premiers and the federal government on a national climate strategy nearly broke down last March because of the Trudeau government’s insistence on a national minimum carbon price.

“The carbon pricing lobby sucked all the air out of the room,” leading Canadian energy economist Mark Jaccard told DeSmog Canada. “What we should be doing is looking at those jurisdictions that have made progress and learn from them instead of closing our eyes saying ‘I want a carbon price and don’t bother me with the evidence.'”

Indigenous Leaders Cry Foul About Lack of Input Into National Climate Plan

Melina Laboucan-Massimo

Many Indigenous leaders have expressed disappointment that only the leaders of the national organizations representing Inuit, Métis and First Nations were allowed to fully participate in the talks at a climate strategy meeting with the prime minister and premiers earlier this month. Other Indigenous leaders in attendance for the meeting in Vancouver were relegated to the role of spectators.
“Limiting conversation to three Indigenous voices from over 600 Indigenous communities across Canada is a vast under representation,” Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a climate and indigenous rights activist, said. “At a bare minimum, the regional chiefs should be at the table as well, but also Indigenous leaders and experts who work on climate should be as well.”
Regional chiefs were also frustrated that their input into the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change is limited, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of a “renewed, nation-to-nation relationship” with Indigenous people in Canada.
“We thought we’d have a chance to speak, but it was the national chief who was permitted to speak for about ten minutes. Ten minutes for all First Nations in Canada? That is a slap in the face to First Nations and embarrassment for Canada,” Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day told DeSmog Canada. “Climate change is a matter of life and death. Our kids and grandkids will suffer if we fail to act and we only have a 20-year window to act. Clearly, we all need to work together.”

Vancouver Declaration Moves Canada Closer To A National Climate Plan

Prime minister Justin Trudeau

Canada stands at the threshold of building our clean growth economy,” the opening line of Canada’s new declaration on clean growth and climate change states. The declaration was endorsed by the prime minister and premiers in Vancouver Thursday.
“We will grow our economy while reducing emissions. We will capitalize on the opportunity of a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy to create good-paying and long-term jobs. We will do this in partnership with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect and cooperation,” the Vancouver Declaration continues.   
The document itself is not a national climate plan, but rather lays the foundation for one to be finalized in the fall. The document represents a major change in the political tide for Canada, with the federal government, provinces and territories working together to reduce Canada’s production of global warming greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“Politicians coming together and talking about this is a great step for Canada,” Dave Sawyer, a leading environmental economist in Canada, told DeSmog Canada. “It is very positive that first ministers are setting up a process to align provincial climate policies and look to fill holes in policies across the country.”

Quebec’s Energy East Injunction A Matter Of Law, Not Opposition, Environment Minister Says

Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel announced Tuesday the province is filing a legal injunction against TransCanada’s proposed Energy East oil pipeline with Quebec’s Superior Court.

“Today's motion is very simple and very clear. It signifies that whoever seeks to build a project in Quebec must comply with all Quebec laws and regulations,” Heurtel said at a press conference.

“This is not only a matter of respect, but equally a question of fairness towards all companies that wish to do business in Quebec.”

The announcement left oil-patch politicians like Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall once again bitter with Quebec for not fully supporting the west-to-east pipeline project. 

“I'm very disappointed,” Wall said in response to the province's push for an injunction. “It seems of late that we seem to be forgetting what's best about Canada.”
“The Minister himself was quite clear in pointing out it is not a position for or against the pipeline,” Karine Peloffy, executive director of Centre Québécois du Droit de l’Environnement (Quebec Environmental Law Center), said. “It is more an issue of insisting on the proper application of the law.” 

2015 Policy Uncertainty Created A Weak Year For Clean Energy Investments in Canada: Report

Clean energy investment surged to $497 billion worldwide in 2015 while in Canada investment in renewables experienced a massive 46 per cent plunge to around $5.4 billion, according to a new report released Monday by Clean Energy Canada.

Global investment is up from a total of $420 billion in 2014 with nearly one-third of of new investments occurring in China. Spending on renewables increased in the U.S. by seven per cent, in India by 23 per cent and in Mexico by 114 per cent. 
“Canada’s performance was out of step with its peers in 2015,” Clare Demerse, senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, told DeSmog Canada. “This should be a wakeup call, although we hope this is a one-off and not the start of a trend.”

Trudeau's National Climate Meeting Seen as Opportunity to Advance Clean Energy Economy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Wednesday the federal government will meet with Indigenous leaders and premiers in Vancouver in early March in the hopes of laying out the framework for a national climate strategy.
“I look forward to working with the premiers on combatting climate change and moving toward a greener, more sustainable Canadian economy better positioned to compete globally in the areas of clean knowledge and technologies,” Trudeau said in a media release.

The Prime Minister announced he will meet with Indigenous leaders on March 2 to inform a national climate framework discussion with the premiers in a First Ministers' Meeting scheduled to take place March 3. First Ministers' Meetings did not occur under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

According to Clare Demerse, Ottawa-based energy policy adviser with Clean Energy Canada, the meeting provides an unprecedented opportunity to discuss Canada's renewable energy transition.
“The right people will be in the room to move forward on a national approach [to climate change],” Demerse told DeSmog Canada. “Whether it’s electrical production, or natural resources extraction, provinces make big decisions on energy in Canada.”