All posts in Climate Change

  • Canada Coat of Arms
    Peter Jones - July 1, 2014

    Ohhhhhhhhhh! Canada

    Our Government minimizes the circulation of climate change information that exposes shortfalls in Canadian Federal Policy.  If it has to be disclosed, such information is quietly placed onto a Departmental Website without Ministerial comment.    This is what happened with a report, Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation, which appeared on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) site June 24th last.

    The report was Canada’s climate change Score Card.  Yes, climate change is occurring, yes the effects are being felt in Canada, and yes, we have done little in response.  The Score Card identified barriers to action, such as “limited resources, limited motivation and issues related to governance.”

    4RG receives electronic Government of Canada Media Releases from the DNR. Most of these Releases relate only to routine activities and expenditures.   To give the content of the Release more substance, government communications officers include prior policy statements about climate change.  One might conclude from this frequent repetition that the Canadian Government is at a world class level in the fight against climate change.

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  • Peter Jones - June 26, 2014

    Fossil Fuels Promotion = Horse Manure

    So, Canada’s federal government has finally approved construction of the proposed Enbridge pipeline that is intended to carry bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to Kitimat, and thence by ocean to China.

    If we do not go ahead, the Prime Minister warns us, Canada’s economy will be in grave danger. “No country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country,” he declared a week ago, in a joint statement with the openly climate denying Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott.  Read more at “Prime Minister Harper ups the ante!”

    But what if none of this is true? What if there were two possible directions that Canada’s future economy could take, not just one? What if there was another future built on clean technology, renewable energy, sustainable transportation and zero-carbon buildings, in which Canada could prosper without the tar sands and the unwanted pipelines, and without all the fracking, the oil-polluted waters, the exploding trains, the waves of public opposition and the legal challenges from First Nations?

    To Stephen Harper and his supporters, such a future is unthinkable. He would far rather we dwelled on the danger of not supporting fossil fuel expansion than the far graver danger of a world that is four, five or even six degrees warmer due to the carbon released by the fossil fuels. Read more at  “A Half Truth or a Suppressed Truth”.

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  • glenn murray
    Peter Jones - June 24, 2014


    The Ontario Government has taken a small step which is enormous in the context of North American politics. The step:  re-naming the Department of the Environment as the Department of the Environment and Climate Change.

    In our recent letter to Premier Wynne we stated:

    “Along with other Provinces, your Government committed to bring these [GHG] emissions down to 15% below their 1990 level by 2020. In subsequent years your government encouraged the development of renewable energy and phased out coal-fired generating plants.

     We give you and your colleagues, past and present, full credit for this and other programs that mitigate emissions. . . .

    Can you demonstrate how your party can live up to its promise to reduce emissions?  The electorate needs more than words: what programs will your government institute to contribute to reductions, how soon, and how much?”

    In one sense inclusion of Climate Change in the departmental name is nothing but the addition of two words.  Yet, with the appointment of Glenn Murray as Minister, we believe that it will be followed by action.  And if there is action we will give this government full credit for what they have done.

    And if there is a lack of action on climate change we will be one of the many climate change groups that will hold the government responsible.


  • Peter Jones -

    For Want of a nail . . .

    Those words started a little rhyme that children recited.  The rhyme taught that ignoring small deficiencies could have large consequences.    The damage caused by the Angus Tornado is a somber lesson for grown-ups that in any age of climate change, skimping on best construction standards can be disastrous.

    Representatives of The Institute for Catastrophic Losses examined the wreckage of the houses severely damaged by the tornado.   They concluded is that small, inexpensive measures could have protected family homes against their roof from being wrenched off by the tornado.

    Loss of a roof, which weakens the structure and exposes the contents to heavy downpour, commonly occurs when a tornado strikes a built-up area, such as Angus.  The remedies are simple and well known: hurricane trusses (straps to hold the roof to the walls),  longer nails (!!), and more nails (!!) for roof sheathing.

    Some time ago, the Institute has shared this knowledge with governments and the building trades industry.   But nothing was done to require these low cost practices, although Ontario is the terminus of “tornado alley”. 

    The information occasioned a round of finger-pointing:  the building trades industry blamed the Ontario Government, and the Government responded by saying you were free to use these practices if you chose.

    Another children’s saying comes to mind:  “Penny Wise and Pound foolish”.

    Unfortunately, the situation is more serious than just a failure to require stricter building code requirements.  The examination of the wreckage discovered shoddy practices: in quite a few cases only one nail was used to secure the truss to the walls of the house.

    Our sympathies and the sympathy of all Ontarians are with the citizens of Angus.  They deserve more than sympathy.  They deserve justice against the indifference of those responsible for the building code, and those who build by it.

  • energy board hq
    Peter Jones - June 16, 2014

    The Northern Gateway: what the National Energy Board didn’t consider!

    The pre-announcement statements from Conservative Politicians show that Federal Cabinet approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline is a certainty.  Yet a fundamental issue may undermine the legal foundation for Cabinet approval.

    Did the National Energy Board (NEB) properly discharge its mandate to review the full environmental effects of the Northern Gateway Pipeline?    4RG Contributor Hugh Robertson does not think so!  He observed that

    “[t]here were a few fleeting references in the [NEB] report as to whether future generations would be better off with or without the pipeline project but there was no in-depth analysis of the potential impact on unborn generations.

    Robertson concluded that the NEB panel mistakenly ignored or dismissed GHG emissions

    • from the extraction of bitumen  from Northern Alberta AND
    • during  construction of the pipeline AND
    • during the refining of the  product transported through the Pipeline AND
    • from its ultimate combustion in another country.

    In other words, in assessing the public interest the NEB panel failed to examine how the total of these emissions would over the longer term contribute to global warming.

    The difficulty with this criticism is that nowhere in the relevant Federal legislation is there any clear direction to the NEB to take into account the longer term, indirect contribution to global warming of any pipeline project it is asked to approve.

    Contrast Canada with the US and the European Union.   In exercising its mandate to review Keystone XL, the US State Department researched how approval of that Pipeline would contribute to climate change.

    The European Union has gone even  further.   A new European Union Directive requires the environmental review agency to consider climate change in its decision.   The Directive states:

    “Climate change will continue to cause damage to the environment and compromise economic development.  In this regard it is appropriate to assess the impact of projects on climate (For example greenhouse gas emissions) and their vulnerability to climate change.”

    The Canadian Federal Government has no interest whatsoever in introducing cautions about climate change into the mandate of the NEB.  Its objective is to make the review process more “efficient”, particularly by lessening the time required to reach a decision.   Evidence as to climate change would – at the very least – frustrate the Government’s desire to see a quick decision.  And also increase the possibility that a truly independent board could reject pipelines on the scale of Northern Gateway.

  • Ontario crest
    Peter Jones - June 13, 2014

    The Ontario Election and Climate Change

    Many voters concerned about climate change grudgingly accepted the Liberals over its principal challenger, the Ontario Conservative Party. These voters gave the Liberal party credit for what it had accomplished in reducing GHG emissions.  They were prepared to give some breathing room before expecting more action on the subject.  Their choice was made easier by the Conservative’s indifference to the risks of climate change.

    In an article in today’s Globe & Mail “Who can save the planet? Voters!”, Gary Mason identified one important example that could lead to action on climate change: President Obama’s campaign to educate and persuade a highly polarized American electorate in these words:

    “Mr. Obama is right:  The public needs to lead on this issue [climate change] and do so by starting to reward politicians who are ready to lead on it too.”

    In the Ontario election the issue never surfaced.  In the leader’s debate nobody used the words “climate change.”  Voters ignored the Green Party, which ran good candidates in several ridings, and advocated necessary policies for serious action.  Yet the Party got about the same number of votes as the previous election.

    It is certain that in the 2015 Federal Election the Conservative Party will continue to dismiss climate change as a real risk.  Or claim that steps to reduce climate change will harm Canada’s economy.

    Certainly this strategy has worked for the Conservatives before. Remember the “job-destroying carbon tax!”

    Canadian voters must set aside their lukewarm approach to climate change.  It is not enough that they respond to public opinion surveys by indicating they want “tough action” on the subject.

    Voters must become politically active on a much larger scale.  They must reject any party that will not do what is necessary.  If not, the 2015 election will not lead to any changes.

    Canadian voters are not there yet.