Ontario Leadership Required!

On May 6th last, the Ontario Government released a new policy for renewable energy. The new policy gives municipalities more control over the location of new large renewable energy projects. This change is a response to public criticism of the Government’s failure to consult with respect to the location of large gas-fired generating plants and placing of wind turbines.   While the new policy is politically necessary, it is administratively cumbersome. By way of contrast, a recent Report of the Ontario Distribution Sector Review Panel recommended consolidating the province’s local distribution companies (your municipal hydro company), which will encourage the development of “smart grids” that efficiently deliver electricity at a lower cost.

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Waking up to Catastrophe

4RG’s Climate Change Forum, “Waking up to Catastrophe”, took place Saturday, May 25th, in Peterborough, Ontario. The title of the Forum was a carry-forward from last year’s “Sleep Walking to Catastrophe”. Since then public opinion in both Canada and the U.S. has changed, as most people now recognize that climate change is a threat to the future well being of the Earth.

Three panelists covered various dimensions of the topic:

Alanna Mitchell, the author of “Sea Sick”, reviewed the increase of Greenhouse Gas emissions.  She explained that the failure by the nations of the world to cap the emission of carbon dioxide means that the critical limit of GHG in the atmosphere will be exceeded in the next decades. She also pointed out that the oceans are absorbing both heat and carbon dioxide, a situation that will seriously impact fish stocks crucial to feeding the Earth’s population.

Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, reviewed the progress of the Province of Ontario in reducing GHG emissions.  He acknowledged that the Province had made progress to date, but pointed out that there were no programs in place for continued reductions from next year to 2020, the target date for Canada under the Copenhagen Accord.

The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Rural Affairs and MPP for Peterborough, reviewed the various programs instituted by the Ontario Government that had put Ontario close at the top of Canadian provinces in reducing GHG emissions.  He then answered a wide variety of questions from the audience directed to environmental issues.

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If we don’t, other countries will.

On several occasions we have commented on “the tragedy of the commons”, where individuals maximize their use of a common resource knowing that if other users do the same the resource will be exhausted to the detriment of them all. They may pursue this destructive path believing that other common users are similarly motivated. So …

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The Great Divide at Doha.

It is a good legal principle that an agreement to agree is not enforceable in a court of law.  The countries attending the COP18 Conference at Doha are finding that such a principle has a practical basis. Supposedly all countries agreed at last year’s COP17 Conference at Durban to negotiate a replacement for the Kyoto Convention …

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The Road to Doha

Last year it was the inconclusive meeting of nations at Durban.  This year the climate conference will be held at Doha, the capital of Qatar, in the Arabian Gulf. There is a fatigue, a sense of being stuck on the same issues, the disappointment that more is not being accomplished. Climate change: who cares any more? …

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